Russian war crimes in Ukraine cannot be forgotten, says OSCE head

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) Zbigniew Rau, 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 Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian President took the opportunity to express his gratitude to Poland for the help it provides to the war-torn country.

“I would like to thank the President of Poland, the Polish government and first of all Polish people for their support of Ukraine. First of all, I would like to thank you for the warmth with which you are sharing our refugees, those people who are temporary in Poland. Everyone does something, you provide accommodation, and help our pupils, children and families,” said Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“You help our people to find work and shelters. We are extremely grateful to the Polish Parliament for legislative initiatives which help Ukrainians to have their rights and freedoms. Now, this unity between our countries is a sign of a common future between our people, between our independent and sovereign countries,” Zelenskyy emphasised.

At a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, Zbigniew Rau said that the OSCE was determined to remain present on the ground and help Ukraine in post-war rehabilitation and reconstruction.

“I am convinced the OSCE will play a key role in this endeavour,” Rau said.

Rau also emphasised that 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 him, 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. He also underlined that cessation of all military activity was the foundation for future negotiations.

On his part, Dmytro Kuleba thanked OSCE for invoking the “Moscow Mechanism”.

The 'Moscow Mechanism' has been used against Moscow to document war crimes committed by Russia on the territory of Ukraine. We will use all OSCE capabilities to hold the Russian Federation accountable,” Kuleba said.

The OSCE is an organization of 57 countries that includes former Cold War foes the United States and Russia as well as various countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America.

In April, an OSCE mission said it had found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russia in Ukraine.