Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday that Canada is helping to investigate war crimes in Ukraine, suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin is targeting civilians on purpose as his forces continue to attack the neighboring country.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Trudeau said that the images coming out of towns like Bucha are “horrific.”
“It is clear that Putin is systematically targeting civilians, whether it’s hospitals or train stations or maternity wards,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“This is one of the reasons Canada was one of the first countries to call on the international criminal court to look into Putin’s war crimes. We’re providing investigative support, we’re building up the case for people to recognize that not only was this a terrible mistake to violate the sovereignty of another country and create massive global instability that’s impacting energy and food prices around the world, but it is also a series of war crimes that Putin is deliberately committing that he needs to be held to account for.”
As Russian forces have pulled back from their attack on Kyiv to focus on other regions, Ukrainian forces have been able to retake towns that were under Russian occupation. Photos of bodies lying in the streets of Bucha, and reports from survivors who described Russian soldiers killing civilians without provocation have sent a chill through the international community.
There have also been reports of Russian soldiers raping and abusing Ukrainian civilians.
A member of the Ukrainian parliament and leader of Ukraine’s liberal and pro-Europe Holos Party appeared on CTV News Channel’s Power Play last Monday to describe what she saw when touring Bucha, calling it a “total genocide.”
Trudeau did not say Sunday if he believed it was genocide, saying that it is still “to be determined.”
“The messages we’re seeing, the stories of what Russian soldiers are doing, not just the murder of civilians absolutely but the systematic use of sexual violence and rape to destabilize and have the greatest negative impact on Ukrainian people as possible, is unforgivable and unacceptable,” he said. “And that’s why the global community is going to and is responding so strongly.”
On Saturday, the federal government announced it was introducing more measures to assist Ukrainian refugees in coming to Canada, including charter flights, temporary hotel accommodation and short-term income support.