Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine amid reports that Russian forces were leaving brutalized bodies and widespread destruction as they withdrew from the Kyiv region. 

“Indeed, this is genocide, the elimination of the whole nation and the people,” Zelenskyy told CBS news, “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

The Ukrainian leader said Russia’s invasion, now in its sixth week, is about “the destruction and extermination” of the more than 100 nationalities in his country.

“We are the citizens of Ukraine and we don’t want to be subdued to the policy of the the Russian federation, and this is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated,” Zelenskyy said through a translator.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelenskyy, said the streets of Bucha and the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel looked like a “scene from a horror movie” as the streets were covered with scores of killed civilians.

Russian troops appeared to be regrouping and shifting focus to the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine this weekend as Ukrainian forces retook territory north of Kyiv, the country’s capital and largest city.

The shift comes amid a growing humanitarian crisis in the hard-hit port city of Mariupol, where Russian forces have blocked evacuation operations despite agreeing days ago to allow safe passage from the city. 

Zelenskyy called the situation in Mariupol and other Russian-controlled cities a “humanitarian disaster,” saying they have “lots of bodies” in the streets and no corridor for food, water and supplies.

About 100,000 civilians are still believed to be in Mariupol. 

Questioned if he would accept anything less than a full withdrawal of Russian troops, Zelenskyy said Russian President Vladimir Putin should withdraw all troops to the borders that existed before the invasion on February 24.

He said a cease-fire should be the starting point for any discussions about a resolution to the war.

“First the cease-fire, then we can have a meeting with the Russian president,” Zelenskyy said. 

“Let’s simply sit down together — the two of us — and we will discuss a point in time when the end of the war will come,” he said while insisting that Ukraine wants to preserve its sovereignty and “our strong army.”