The president of Estonia said the growing body of evidence detailing killings and sexual crimes against Ukrainian citizens emerging from towns around Kyiv amounts to “war crimes” with “elements of genocide,” after he visited a number of sites last week.
“It’s just horrible. I was speechless. I mean, killing civilians, children, raping women and you see the results,” Alar Karis told CNN on Thursday. “It’s a war crime, it’s a crime against humanity.”
When pushed on whether what he saw amounted to genocide, he replied, “Well, elements of genocide, definitely.”
Along with the leaders of Poland, Lithuania and Lativa, Karis met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on April 13. They spoke about a ban on Russian oil and gas and how to get Ukraine’s large storage of grain out of the country.
“One proposal was that we could, [use] our ports in [the] Baltics and in Poland and use trains to provide grain to different countries. And of course, another option is to try to keep the port of Odesa open [so] that we could provide this kind of humanitarian [aid] to countries,” Karis said.
Estonia has called on the European Union to impose sanctions on the transport of Russian oil and gas, but Karis did not want to criticize Germany for its decision to continue importing fuel.
“But [a] country like Germany, of course, it’s a huge country. It’s not like Estonia because we decided to with the Baltic states that we [would] stop buying gas from Russia by the end of year. But for Germany, it’s probably difficult,” Karis told CNN.
The US State Department suggested Wednesday that NATO allies could become actively involved in Ukraine to help the implementation of evacuation corridors. Karis said such a move was unlikely unless Russia started using chemical weapons.
Russia is closing the consulates of Latvia in St. Petersburg and Pskov, as well as the consulates general of Estonia and Lithuania in St. Petersburg, and all their employees are declared “persona non grata,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday. Karis was unperturbed by the decision, only saying that “this is kind of practice which diplomats have.”