President of Ukraine

Full accountability is what teaches an aggressor to live in peace – Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the Bucha Summit

31 March 2023 - 22:10

Full accountability is what teaches an aggressor to live in peace – Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the Bucha Summit

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in the first Bucha Summit Faces of Justice, dedicated to discussing the mechanisms of bringing the aggressor state to full accountability for crimes against the Ukrainian people and humanity. Heads of foreign states and governments, other representatives of partner countries and international organizations joined the event in a mixed format.

Opening the summit, the President of Ukraine emphasized that everything the world saw in Bucha one year ago after the Russian occupation became a symbol of the horror brought by Russian aggression.

"We must do everything to make Bucha a symbol of justice. Justice for Ukraine, for Europe, for the whole world. That every Russian murderer, executioner and terrorist answer for every crime against our people, against humanity as such. Everything what happened in Bucha, the Russian army carries wherever it goes," the Head of State said.

He emphasized that systemic violence and genocide are the essence of Russian actions in all Ukrainian occupied territories. After Bucha, the world saw similar things in other de-occupied towns and villages.

Zelenskyy said that only in Bucha district of Kyiv region, the Russian occupiers committed more than 9,000 war crimes, killed more than 1,400 civilians, and 637 of them in Bucha.

"Old people and very young. Men and women, children... 37 children were killed by the Russians only here, only in Bucha and near this town," the Head of State said.

Therefore, according to the President, the occupier's accountability for all crimes must be full.

"There should be three elements in Russia's full accountability. The first is the national justice of Ukraine, which will ensure the accountability of the majority of Russian murderers and terrorists. The second is the International Criminal Court, which is capable of prosecuting Russian war criminals of various levels within its jurisdiction. And the third mandatory element is a special tribunal; the mandatory element – we emphasize for certain countries and certain leaders who have a different opinion – the special tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine, which will bring to justice those guilty of the primary crime – the crime of aggression, the crime that made possible all other crimes of this Russia's unprovoked war against Ukraine," Zelenskyy said.

As the Head of State said, only justice can ensure the soundness of the post-war peace.

"Only when peace is built on the just foundations of full condemnation of aggression and when the accountability of the one who disturbed the peace is fully ensured, peace can last for long," he said, noting that the formal norms of international law will not work without fully ensured justice.

"That is why justice is one of the points of our fundamental document, our Peace Formula that we have proposed. And for the sake of justice, we are creating a global network of legal cooperation. Cooperation just not to allow does to return. And so that in response to every destruction or ruin of our Ukrainian life by the Russian occupiers, a legal verdict of the court will be pronounced," the President said.

Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude to everyone in the world who shares Ukraine's position regarding the inadmissibility of compromises at the expense of justice.

According to him, everyone who does not want a repetition in other parts of the world of what Russia is doing in Ukraine, should work together with our state to create a special tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression, a compensation mechanism to recover all losses caused by aggression.

"Full accountability is what teaches an aggressor to live in peace. Although it is difficult, it is going to work," the Head of State said.

As the President said, significant progress in achieving justice has already been shown by the International Criminal Court, which issued an arrest warrant for the head of the terrorist state on charges of forcible deportation of Ukrainian children from the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by Russia.

"Ukraine fully supports and actively contributes to the work of the International Criminal Court. We are also waiting for new warrants to arrest Russian political and military figures in relevant cases regarding crimes committed on the territory of independent Ukraine. I emphasize: they must be held accountable not only to the history, but also to the court for everything they have done," Zelenskyy said.

At the President's persuasion, the national judiciary of Ukraine, the International Criminal Court, and the special tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression will together restore the effectiveness of the international order based on rules.

"Today's Summit and the Bucha Declaration bring even closer the time when Russia and all criminals will be punished. May this happen in the name of everyone who died at the hands of Russian war criminals. May this happen in the name of every Ukrainian child whose life was taken by Russian terror. May this happen in the name of the values of the world, on which international law is built and which must function – function effectively, always and everywhere on Earth," the Head of State said.

After the Summit, the Bucha Declaration was adopted, which shall remain open for accession.

The President of Ukraine noted the importance of the fact that about 50 countries and organizations participated in the first Bucha Summit.

"This is extremely important for every Ukrainian man and woman. It is important because there are priorities. It is victory and justice. We will definitely achieve them," he said.

In particular, President of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu, Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic Eduard Heger and Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Robert Golob came to Ukraine to participate in the event.

The following participants addressed the audience via video links: President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic of Estonia Alar Karis, and President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili. The following participants joined the summit online: President of the Republic of Latvia Egils Levits, President of the Republic of France Emmanuel Macron, President of the Czech Republic Petr Pavel, President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö, President of Hungary Katalin Novák, President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović, President of the Republic of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Republic of Guatemala Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei Falla.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and PACE President Tiny Kox, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola also addressed the participants via video links.

In addition, the following participants spoke via video links: Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein Daniel Risch, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Sweden Ulf Kristersson, Prime Minister, Minister of Finance of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Philip Davis, and Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel, Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro

Video addresses of the ministers of the states supporting Ukraine were also played.