Polish president says Russia may be committing genocide in Ukraine

Speaking in a televised address on Wednesday, Duda said he believed the acts "will not go unpunished and the perpetrators will answer for them before international courts." Jakub Szymczuk/KPRP

Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, has said Russia's military attacks on Ukrainian residential areas and civilian facilities could be tantamount to genocide.

Speaking in a televised address on Wednesday, Duda said he believed the acts "will not go unpunished and the perpetrators will answer for them before international courts."

"Residential buildings, tower blocks, schools and hospitals have come under attack," Duda said.

"I paid a visit to the beautiful and proud Kyiv only a week ago and I spoke with (Ukrainian) President Volodymyr Zelensky," Duda recalled. "A few hours later, Russian troops attacked independent Ukraine, starting a cruel war against our neighbour."

The president also warned that Russia may use disinformation to spread chaos and create divisions in Polish society.

"They have tried to discredit Poland in the foreign media and stoke hostile sentiment towards refugees that we've been accepting," Duda said. "We must be prepared for a number of such provocations in the near future."

Duda asked Poles not to disseminate unverified information and rumours. "Let's not allow them to antagonise us and set one against the other," Duda said.

Russia attacked Ukraine last Thursday, but the invasion appears not to be going to plan. The military operation, which the Kremlin likely wanted to be very swift, is now in its seventh day and no major Ukrainian city has been captured yet. Thousands have died in the conflict so far, including more than 500 civilians, according to the UN. Russia's apparent lack of immediate success has led to increased shelling of residential areas and civilian facilities.

Polish prosecutors have launched an investigation into potential war crimes committed by Russians in Ukraine and are collecting evidence to be presented later before the International Criminal Court.