Russia must be held accountable for war crimes – Vilnius, Kyiv politicians

  • 2023-07-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Russia must be held accountable for its war crimes, senior Lithuanian and Ukrainian politicians said on Monday as they attended the opening of an exhibition called "Russian War Crimes" at the former Lukiskes prison in central Vilnius.

Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, who attended the event straight after meeting with the heads of several parliaments in Riga, said the opening of this exhibition on the eve of the NATO summit in Vilnius, with world leaders' planes landing in the Lithuanian capital, was a timely event, adding that the exhibition highlights the horrific brutality of Russian war crimes and reinforces the commitment to Ukraine's NATO membership.

The Seimas speaker informed that her Baltic, Polish and Ukrainian counterparts issued a joint declaration on Monday, stating that should be given a clear algorithm towards NATO membership at the Vilnius summit.

"We need a real commitment to Ukraine that it will become a member of NATO, and give it a clear algorithm of when and how it will happen," Cmilyte-Nielsen said.

Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, addressed the event virtually and stressed that the concept of justice is simple as the guilty must be punished, the damage done must be compensated and the crime repetition must be prevented.

"The people of Ukraine will begin their quest for justice. We greatly count on the civilized nations in this important matter. For the world order and international law to prevail, we need your help," he said, adding, that "everyone will have to make a choice whatever he or she is ready to join us to stop the evil and to punish those who do it".

Also joining the event virtually, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shymkhal noted that "NATO is not only about war and defense; it is also about security ant peace", and there's no justice without accountability.

"Justice is impossible without accountability of those who started this terrible war. That is why accountability is one of key points or President Zelensky's peace formula," he said.

Speaking about war crimes, the Ukrainian prime minister said that "every day Russian barbarians destroy civilian homes, schools, kindergartens and critical infrastructure". He also called the blowing up of the Kakhovka hydropower plant "an unprecedented crime of the XXI century.

The "Russian War Crimes" exhibition was opened on Monday by the Office of the President of Ukraine in cooperation with the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and the Ukrainian Embassy in Lithuania. 

The organizers say Russia's war crimes show the brutal face of a country that has not only invaded a peaceful neighbor, but is also actively targeting Ukrainian civilians.

The exhibition features photographs taken in Ukraine since the start of the war to the present, with the organizers saying that it shows only a fraction of the known crimes.

In January, the exhibition returned to Davos, where it was updated and shown again at the World Economic Forum meeting. In February, the project was presented at the Munich Security Conference.