Zelenskyy accuses Putin of genocide in Ukraine: 'Elimination of the whole nation'
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday said Russia's invasion of his country is a "genocide" and that Kremlin officials, not just Russian President Vladimir Putin, should be held accountable.
His comments come after photos surfaced over the weekend showing mass graves outside of Kyiv following the withdrawal of Russian troops. Other images from Bucha, Ukraine, show Kremlin forces apparently targeted vehicles marked with the Russian word for children, and executed civilians with their hands tied behind their backs.
Russia's representative to the United Nations blamed "Ukrainian radicals’ provocation" for the situation in Bucha. "We will unmask Ukrainian provocateurs and their Western patrons," diplomat Dmitry Polyanskiy said Sunday, Russia's state-run Tass reported.
"Indeed, this is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities," Zelenskyy told Margaret Brennan on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday.
"We are the citizens of Ukraine and we don't want to be subdued to the policy of Russian Federation. This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated, and this is happening in the Europe of the 21st century. So this is the torture of the whole nation," the Ukrainian president said.
Zelenskyy said he doesn't understand Russia's reported brutal violence.
He said that Ukrainian officials have found people "with hands tied behind their back and decapitated" and "kids who were killed and tortured."
He noted, "It wasn't enough just to kill for those criminals. Maybe they wanted to take gold or washing machines and they were killing, but they were also torturing them as they did this."
Tthe Ukrainian president said that prosecution for war crimes should go beyond Putin.
"We believe in justice," he said.
"The question is not only about the leader of Russian Federation. We wouldn't think that it would be fair to take only him. I think all the military commanders, everyone who gave instructions and orders should be punished adequately," Zelenskyy told CBS.
He said he feels that prison is not a harsh enough sentence.
"As the father of two children and as a president, I think that these people, if they are put behind the bars, this is one too little for what they have done," Zelenskyy said.
Russia said last week that it was "regrouping" troops to key fronts in Ukraine, but officials in Kyiv disputed the claims.