Russian war crimes in Ukraine cannot be forgotten, says Polish FM

During a trip to Ukraine, Zbigniew Rau visited the town of Bucha, which has been destroyed by Russian forces, and spoke to the country's highest officials and with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Marcin Obara/PAP

War crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine cannot be forgotten and those responsible should face justice, Poland's foreign minister and chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said in Kyiv on Tuesday.

During a trip to Ukraine, Zbigniew Rau visited the town of Bucha, which has been destroyed by Russian forces, and spoke to the country's highest officials and with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

At a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, Rau said the Russian Federation had waged an unprovoked, unjust and cruel war on Ukraine. "A little while ago, I visited Bucha and I was witness to the results of senseless cruelty that cannot be described...," Rau said. "What we saw and heard in Bucha I would call a silent cry of strangled humanity."

According to Rau, the names of places like Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel and Borodianka will go down in history as war crime sites.

"War crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine cannot be forgotten, and those who are responsible should be put before the judicial system," Rau said. "The international community has an obligation to make every effort towards bringing all those guilty of these dreadful crimes to justice.

"I would like to take this opportunity to call once again upon the Russian Federation to immediately cease all military activity and fully withdraw from the territory of Ukraine within the borders recognised by the international community," the foreign minister said, adding that cessation of all military activity was the foundation for future negotiations. "The violence must end immediately," he said.

He added that he wanted to express, "a single, very simple message: We are united in solidarity and unwavering support for the whole Ukrainian nation," adding that, "Poland remains Ukraine's friend, we will still develop our strong bilateral relations, and I am convinced that Poland and Ukraine have a common future in a united Europe."

In a press release after the talks, Zelensky's office said the Ukrainian head of state had sent his thanks via Rau to his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, and to the Polish nation in general for their support of Ukraine. In addition to the granting of military aid, he particularly highlighted Poland's help in accepting war refugees.

Zelensky described Poland as a "Powerful neighbour of Ukraine, which is helping with all its might at this historic time of war with Russia.

"Everyone is helping however they can; they're taking (people) into their families, they're helping our children, helping families find work and shelter," Zelensky said.

Zelensky also noted the Polish parliament's adoption of a special law to support Ukrainian refugees and pointed out that in return, Ukraine's parliament had passed a law giving special status to Poles in the country.

He also expressed hope there would be further such measures and said such unity testified to a common future for the two nations and independent states.