Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for the establishment of trials similar to those conducted in Nuremberg after the second World War to prosecute those involved in Russian war crimes in his country.
He told the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday of killings, rape, torture and looting carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine.
Ukraine had experienced “the most terrible war crimes” since the second World War, he said, suggesting the killings seen in the city of Bucha could be replicated elsewhere.
“The Russian military and those who gave them orders must be brought to justice immediately for war crimes in Ukraine. Anyone who has given criminal orders and carried out them by killing our people will be brought before the tribunal, which should be similar to the Nuremberg tribunals.”
Russia rejected the claims as “lies”. Its representative told the council, without any evidence, that Ukrainian civilians had been killed by “radicals” from their own country.
The European Union is set to intensify sanctions against Russia following events in Bucha. It is moving to prohibit Russian coal imports, a trade worth €4 billion annually, and ban transactions with four key Russian banks in a fresh package of sanctions proposed by the commission and which are aimed to come into force on Thursday.
The proposals would bar some Russian vessels from accessing EU ports, hit Russian and Belarussian road transport operators, bar imports from Russia of key goods including cement, seafood and liquor while imposing asset freezes and travel bans on additional individuals.
“These atrocities cannot and will not be left unanswered,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
The United States has also signaled that it is working on further sanctions to be applied on Russia. US secretary of state Antony Blinken said the alleged Russian actions in Bucha were a “deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities”.
UN secretary general António Guterres warned that the war in Ukraine would hit the developing world hard and that more than 1.2 billion people were particularly vulnerable to spiking food, energy and fertilizer costs.
“We are already seeing some countries move from vulnerability into crisis, and signs of serious social unrest,” he said.
Up to 32,000 arrivals
Meanwhile, the Cabinet was told on Tuesday that 26,000-32,000 people from Ukraine are expected to have arrived in Ireland by Easter weekend. A key challenge for the Government will be securing accommodation.
One possibility being examined by officials is that up to 8,000 properties, currently vacant because their owners are in nursing home care under the Fair Deal scheme, could be used to house Ukrainian refugees.
The Government is also in advanced negotiations to use the largest hotel in the State – Citywest in Saggart, Co Dublin – to house Ukrainian refugees for up to two years.
Part of the wider Citywest campus, the Citywest Convention Centre, is already in use as an overflow facility for processing refugees at times when Dublin Airport comes under too much pressure. However, the broader deal is similar to one struck for the Citywest facility at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ministers were told on Tuesday.
The Cabinet was briefed that the Department of Equality is now in negotiations with the owners of the 750-bedroom Citywest Hotel in Dublin to use the entire complex. An indemnity, which would cover lost revenue for the hotel arising from the deal, was sought and agreed at Cabinet.