Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has targeted Western leaders who he says facilitated Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, including former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In an address delivered on Sunday evening amid reports of war crimes being committed by Russian forces in Bucha, a city in Ukraine’s Kyiv region, Zelenskyy said: “I invite Ms. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy to visit Bucha to see what the 14-year policy of concessions towards Russia has led to,” adding that he would like them “to see with their own eyes the tortured Ukrainian men and women see.”
Earlier in his speech, Zelenskyy said the UN Security Council would meet on Tuesday to examine Russia’s war crimes, noting that a new sanctions package would be proposed. “But I’m sure that’s not enough,” Zelenskyy said. “Further conclusions need to be drawn. Not only about Russia, but also about the political behavior that actually made it possible for this evil to come to our country.”
Zelenskyy noted that Sunday marked the 14th anniversary of NATO’s Bucharest summit in 2008, when allies were to decide whether to give the green light to a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) – a status that countries on the way to join the Alliance – for Georgia and Ukraine. Ultimately, the leaders decided not to give the two countries MAP status at the end of the summit, although their Explanation claimed: “We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.” AllegedlyGermany under Merkel and France under Sarkozy were among those involved in blocking Georgia and Ukraine’s NATO ambitions in an attempt to placate Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Zelenskyy.
Speaking of the 2008 summit, Zelenskyy said: “There was a chance to get Ukraine out of the ‘grey zone’ in Eastern Europe. The gray area between NATO and Russia. Get out of the gray area where Moscow thinks it can do whatever it wants. Even the most horrific war crimes.”
The Ukrainian President continued: “Hidden behind optimistic diplomatic statements that Ukraine could become a member of NATO, in 2008 there was a refusal to admit Ukraine into the alliance. The absurd fear of some politicians in Russia was ignored. They thought that by rejecting Ukraine, they could placate Russia, to convince them to respect Ukraine and live normally next to us. In the 14 years since that misjudgment, Ukraine has seen a revolution and eight years of war in Donbass. And now we are fighting for our lives in the most terrible war in Europe since World War II.”
But after Merkel and Sarkozy were specifically checked by name and invited to visit Bucha, where journalists and NGOs reports that Russian forces have committed war crimes against Ukrainian civilians, Zelenskyi softened his allegations. “I want to be understood properly,” he says. “We don’t blame the West. We don’t blame anyone but the specific Russian forces that did this to our people. And those who gave them orders.”
POLITICO has asked the offices of Merkel and Sarkozy for an opinion.
At the beginning of the speech Zelenskyy addressed the mothers of Russian soldiers directly and said in Russian: “I want every mother of every Russian soldier to see the bodies of those who were killed in Bucha, in Irpin, in Hostomel. What have you done? Why were they murdered? … Why were women strangled after having their earrings ripped from their ears? How could women be raped and murdered in front of their children? Their bodies were tortured even after their deaths?”
Zelenskyi also said that when Ukrainian forces recaptured Bucha, they found “hundreds” of civilians had been tortured, killed and raped. But he warned that the scenes in other cities still under Russian control could be even worse.
“After the occupiers were driven out, you could find worse things there,” he said of cities like besieged Mariupol. “More death and torture. Such is the nature of the Russian armed forces that came to our country. These are the bastards who don’t know how to do anything differently. And these were her orders.”
Moscow has denied involvement in the alleged war crimes in Bucha and is trying to deflect blame – but Western leaders are now preparing to dramatically tighten sanctions on Russia this week in response.
https://www.politico.eu/article/zelenskyy-calls-out-angela-merkel-nicolas-sarkozy-for-blocking-ukraines-nato-bid/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Zelenskyy calls on Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy to block Ukraine's NATO bid - POLITICO