The international community received evidence that Russia violated all possible taboos at the level of international law and the rules and customs of warfare in early April 2022, when the Ukrainian army liberated the Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy regions of Ukraine. Foreign journalists and human rights defenders have received many indications that Russia is deliberately committing genocide against the Ukrainian people.
Everyone remembers the liberation of Bucha, Borodyanka, and Irpin because of the obscene cruelty of Russian soldiers against both prisoners of war and ordinary civilians, torture, rape, holding many people in basements for weeks at a time, and looting. In the summer of 2022, there was a deliberate explosion of Ukrainian prisoners held in a penitentiary facility in the village of Olenivka (in Donbass). The liberation of Kherson added information about a network of makeshift prisons, a torture pipeline, and the deportation of the Ukrainian population to Russia, including the forced removal of orphans.
Some Russian soldiers and mercenaries from the Wagner Group, who began fleeing abroad last summer and giving interviews there, have talked about the brutal torture of prisoners of war, shooting prisoners in the arms and legs, and even killing them intentionally, in violation of the Geneva Convention. On March 6, 2023, the Russians posted a video on social media showing the cynical killing of an unarmed captive Ukrainian soldier.
There was nothing new in the fact of another violation of international law by the Russian side and the commission of a war crime. However, the reaction of the vast majority of ordinary Russians on social media, on the pages of opinion leaders, in public and in chat rooms to the video is truly striking. Russian citizens publicly and openly call on the Russian military to kill as many Ukrainians as possible, including children. There are also calls not to stop at just Ukrainians, but also to kill Poles and representatives of the Baltic nations, as they have allegedly always hated Russians.
It should be recognized that over the past 32 years, the Russian leadership has carefully cultivated among its population a cult of inhuman treatment of all those who are not residents of their country. Among the citizens of the Russian Federation, feelings of xenophobia and resentment (hostility to anyone who is the imaginary cause of national failures, combined with hidden and impotent envy) have been tirelessly planted.
For 32 years, Russians have constantly been creating an image of the enemy on whom they blame their national failures – Lithuanians, Chechens, Georgians, Moldovans, Estonians, Americans, British, and finally all NATO member states and Ukrainians. Representatives of all these categories are not considered human in the eyes of more than 80% of Russian citizens. According to their logic, there is no point in treating these people as human beings.
All that the current Russian Federation will leave behind in world history are long lists of its aggressive actions, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The world has to deal with a dangerous and ignorant culture of inhumanity.