Crimes against humanityAfter invading Ukraine last week, Russian soldiers are slaughtering civilians indiscriminately. As their advance into the sovereign neighbor faces strong resistance from Ukrainians, the Russian forces are reportedly attacking civilian facilities instead of military ones. Killing innocent civilians during a war not only constitutes a brazen violation of international law but also criminal activities against humanity.
According to press reports, the Russian Army extended its attacks to residential districts of Kharkiv after its intended capture of the second largest city in Ukraine was delayed by the Ukraine Army’s counterattacks. About 1.4 million people live in Kharkiv. The images of a number of corpses of civilians in their apartments and the scenes of burning buildings in the city are spreading across the world. The Russian troops are expected to do the same in the capital of Kyiv soon.
Russia’s brutal acts did not stop there. The Russian forces allegedly dropped a “vacuum bomb” — which sucks in oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion — in residential areas. The bomb, also referred to as a “hermobaric weapon,” is strictly banned from use in war. Witnesses say they saw the bomb being used in eastern Ukraine, including Kharkiv, and elsewhere. Russia used the vacuum bomb during the Chechen War (1994-2009).
Russian President Vladimir Putin has put Russia’s nuclear forces on “special alert,” which means a preparation for a nuclear attack. The move could be aimed at gaining the upper hand in negotiations while threatening a nuclear attack on Ukraine. But Russia’s nuclear threat itself cannot be forgiven. In an emergency UN General Assembly session on Monday, Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that the idea of a nuclear confrontation was “unthinkable.”
Putin’s order to prepare for a nuclear attack has a direct impact on South Korea as North Korea can make a misjudgment on the use of its own nuclear weapons. After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un repeatedly announced some guidelines on using nuclear weapons, South Korean people live under a nuclear threat from the country across the border. More alarmingly, South Korea was skipped when U.S. President Joe Biden had a phone conversation with allies to deal with the Ukrainian crisis.
Nevertheless, the Moon Jae-in administration does not make any comment on Russia killing civilians in Ukraine, not to mention expressing its position on Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons. The government must recognize the grim reality and react properly. Russia must immediately stop its ruthless aggression to avoid massive civilian casualties.