Traveled with Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP, Co-President of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats in Europe, and my colleague from Fianna Fáil, Billy Kelleher MEP. We were invited to witness firsthand the destruction and terror inflicted on the Ukrainian people by Vladimir Putin and Ukraine Russian federation.
There we met my good friend, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna, Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk and some other representatives of the Ukrainian government.
Their number one priority is peace in their country and they have stressed to us that this will only happen if the flow of money from Russian oil, gas and coal is completely stopped.
What we saw there was really shocking and many times worse than we expected. After flying to Poland, we drove two hours by car to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine.
From there we took a 10-hour train ride to the capital, Kyiv, where we met representatives of the Ukrainian government, who showed us the atrocities committed in Bucha and Irpin.
Bucha and Irpin are northwest of Kyiv, towards the Belarusian border. When the Russian invasion began, a military convoy more than 60 km long made its way towards the capital, Kyiv. To stop the advance of the Russian convoy, the Ukrainian army bombed a bridge leading from Irpin to Kyiv. Thousands of refugees then crossed a makeshift bridge as they tried to reach Kyiv to flee Ukraine and Russian aggression.
Putin and his military believed they would complete their invasion of Ukraine in a matter of days.
Fortunately, the courageous and heroic actions of the Ukrainian military have now resulted in the Russians withdrawing from Kyiv. Tragically, the people of Bucha and Irpin bore the brunt of the frustration and cowardice of the retreating Russian military.
Homes throughout Bucha and Irpin were shelled with complete disregard for the civilians living there. They have been shelled by tanks, they have been set on fire, they have been looted and there is very little left of a house that still stands. What we experienced in Bucha and Irpin was absolutely shocking. I’ve never seen such scenes in my life.
There we met an elderly Ukrainian couple. These people have lived in Bucha all their lives, and now, as a result of the actions of the Russian Federation, all that remains of their homeland is a burned wreck.
What we experienced next there is very difficult to put into words. We were taken to a mass grave where dead Ukrainian civilians lay in body bags. On site, investigators were digging and trying to identify the dead. This work becomes part of a case that will hopefully prosecute Vladimir Putin as a war criminal.
If these atrocities committed by the Russian military are any indication of what happened in other parts of Ukraine, I believe similar war crimes, and possibly more harrowing ones, will be found across the country.
The Russian war machine and these atrocities inflicted on Ukraine are funded by the €1 billion the world pays every day for Russian oil, gas and coal.
There can be no ambiguity. Europe and the whole world must be weaned from Russian energy.
We cannot continue doing business with a war criminal in Vladimir Putin and the Russian state.
Until the world stops buying Russian oil and gas, not only will this war continue, but Vladimir Putin will be emboldened to continue the war against Europe and the liberal values that underpin the European project.
It has been almost 40 days of war since I first visited Ukraine to look at the situation at the border crossings where millions of refugees have fled Ukraine and the Russian war machine. The situation at the border has improved significantly and I was pleased to see that a more humane infrastructure has been put in place there than we had asked for during this visit. The flow of refugees from Ukraine has now been reduced to a trickle, and some people are even returning to see what’s left of the place they once called home.
While the actions of the Ukrainian military and people have been heroic, Russian aggression continues and we must maintain and increase our support for Ukraine.
As Europeans, I believe we must respond by giving Ukraine and President Zelenskyy European candidate status at the next EU Council meeting in June.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/europe-must-wean-itself-off-russian-energy-we-cant-do-business-with-a-war-criminal-41551850.html Europe must wean itself from Russian energy – we cannot do business with a war criminal