Ця стаття також доступна українською мовою тут.

(Editor’s note: This article has been updated to add Dmitry Rogozin’s June 13, 2022, comments and Dmitry Medvedev’s June 15, 2022, comments.)

Long before Russian President Vladimir Putin began intensifying his troop buildup on Ukraine’s borders more than a year ago and even prior to his 2014 invasion and capture of Crimea, analysts noted with alarm a different kind of escalation – the threatening rhetoric of Putin and actors within his control against Ukraine. Dating at least to 2008 or 2009, increasingly hostile language laid the groundwork for rejecting Ukraine’s existence as a state, a national group, and a culture.

What follows is a compilation of publicly available statements (readers are invited to submit by email any that we may have missed).

Experts such as Francine Hirsch, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of “Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg,” have pointed to this language as evidence of genocidal intent toward the Ukrainian people. Whether and how the concept of “genocide” applies to Russia’s campaign against Ukraine is the subject of debate, notwithstanding the reference in Article II of the Genocide Convention to “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such.” A related issue under discussion is a concept often referred to as “cultural genocide,” which generally connotes the intentional destruction of a group’s identity even in the absence of mass killings. “These calls for ‘de-Ukrainization’ are an incitement to genocide: to ‘destroy, in whole or in part,’ the Ukrainian nation,” Hirsch wrote in April. And Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder, in reference to the same article in the Russian outlet RIA Novosti that prompted Hirsch’s conclusion, wrote, “Russia has just issued a genocide handbook for its war on Ukraine.”

Beth Van Schaack, U.S. ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, said in a May hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in response to a question about the Russian atrocities coming to light in Ukraine, “some of the genocidal rhetoric that we’re hearing out of Russia is extremely worrying.”

A new report from the New Lines Institute and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights concludes that “Russia bears State responsibility for breaches of Article II and Article III (c) of the Genocide Convention,” and “that that there exists undoubtedly a very serious risk of genocide, triggering States’ duty to prevent under Article I of the Genocide Convention.” Among the evidence the report cites is a range of statements that it says constitute “direct and public incitement to commit genocide,” including denying the existence of a Ukrainian identity; accusing Ukraine, contrary to evidence, of committing the very kinds of atrocities that Russia is or envisions committing; and dehumanizing rhetoric.

While analysis of Putin and Russian rhetoric has been extensive, it can make for a fragmented picture of the trend, with selections from relevant passages scattered across articles, social media, books, audio, and video. The following compilation seeks to collect examples of these statements in one place. They are organized in chronological order and necessarily non-exhaustive, since such declarations now occur at higher frequency in various media controlled by the Russian government, as expert monitors of Russian media such as Julia Davis and Francis Scarr have found.

The statements range from formal presidential addresses and articles by Putin and other officials to commentary on Russian state television and on social media. Sources include (but are not limited to) news articles; books; the Kremlin’s online repository of speeches and addresses; Russian state-controlled news agencies, including RIA Novosti and Kommersant; and posts on Twitter and Telegram.

This compilation focuses on key words, phrases, and/or themes that appear to express intent on the part of the Russian government to eliminate Ukraine or Ukrainians as a nation-state, people, or culture. Recurring concepts include the notion of historical Russian and Ukrainian unity, denial of the Ukrainian nation, and the conceptualization of “Ukrainianism” as a fascist threat to Russian sovereignty. As the war progresses, it is vital to track these statements of intent for use by analysts, diplomats, policymakers, prosecutors, and more.

With thanks to Maksym Vishcyhk for contributing updates for this list.

(Readers may also be interested in Compilation of Countries’ Statements Calling Russian Actions in Ukraine “Genocide” by Elizabeth Whatcott.)

Collected Eliminationist Rhetoric by Putin and Associates

Russian President Vladimir Putin in reported comment to U.S. President George W. Bush – The NATO bloc broke up into blocking packages – Kommersant (April 7, 2008)
  • “You don’t understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a state. What is Ukraine? Part of its territories is Eastern Europe, but the greater part is a gift from us.” (Reported based on anonymous source as a Putin comment to Bush during the NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania; reported in English on May 25, 2009, in Time Magazine. Neither that nor subsequent references identified to date indicated any effort to corroborate, and some analysts cast doubt on whether Putin made the comment. Some references translated “state” as “country,” which would be a more likely meaning, as in a sovereign State.)
Putin –  “Putin to the West: Hands off Ukraine” – Time Magazine (May 25, 2009)
  • Relations between “Big Russia and Little Russia — Ukraine…have always been the business of Russia itself.”
Putin – “Russia: The Ethnicity Issue” – Nezavisimaya Gazeta (January 23, 2012), (alternative translation by Russian site Top War)
  • Russia, with its diverse set of languages, traditions, and cultures, has an “ethnicity issue” that is “without any doubt a fundamental one.”
  • Multiculturalism “denies integration through assimilation” whilst making the “‘minorities right to be distinct’ absolute.” However, it “does little to balance this with public, behavioral or cultural commitments to the population and society as a whole.
  • Russia is a “type of state civilization where there are no ethnicities, but where ‘belonging’ is determined by a common culture and shared values.” This common culture is reliant upon “preserving the dominance of Russian culture,” which “hostile forces” have tried to break.
    • Analysis: Russia’s unity is reliant upon “the absorption by the leader – first his ideas and then presumably in his acts – of all of these other groups. I was about to say national minorities, but that would have been wrong because, in Putin’s mind, and in [Ivan] Ilyn’s mind for that matter, there are no national minorities. Ilyn [a Russian fascist philosopher and source of ideological inspiration for Putin] was very clear that anyone who uses the phrase ‘national minority’ is attacking Russia.” – Snyder
  • Subtle cultural therapy” is recommended for Russia, a “a country where, for many, the civil war never really ended and where the past is highly politicized.”
  • The organization of regional parties is a “direct path to separatism.” Those who “attempt to lean towards nationalist, separatist, or other similar forces or influences should be restricted from the electoral process through democratic or court procedures.”
  • Russia and Ukraine have “lived together for many centuries. Together [they] were victorious in the most terrible of wars. And [they] will continue to exist side by side. To those who want and try to divide [Russia and Ukraine], I say – in your dreams.”
    • Analysis: When Putin discusses Ukrainians in this vision, “he doesn’t mention the existence of the Ukrainian state; that’s irrelevant. All he mentions is that Ukrainians are a kind of fragment scattered across this broad expanse… This fragment will only be made whole insofar and as it is absorbed into this larger Russian civilization.” Putin also elaborates upon this notion of Russia as a whole civilization in a fascist manner. The “contours, the limits of that civilization are defined by the leader himself.” And, If Russia is divided, “it is the fault of others, who must be threatened and deterred.” – Snyder
Putin – “Address by President of the Russian Federation” – Kremlin website (March 18, 2014)
  • Crimea is “an inseparable part of Russia” that reflects Russia and the region’s “shared history and pride.”
  • “When Crimea ended up as part of a different country,” Russia realized that “it was not simply robbed, it was plundered.”
  • Russians had been deprived of their “historical memory, even of their language and to subject them to forced assimilation.”
  • Ukraine has “no legitimate executive authority now, nobody to talk to. Many government agencies have been taken over by the imposters, but they do not have any control in the country,” and they themselves are “often controlled by radicals.”
Then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev quoted in a conversation with an industry watchdog official – “Russian Prime Minister: Ukraine Has ‘No Industry, or State” (April 5, 2016)
  • There is “neither industry, nor a state there” in Ukraine. In 2013, there was “industry there, but there was no state even then.”
Russian economist and pundit Mikhail Khazin remarks – “They need to be partially eliminated” – YouTube video (December 27, 2016)
  • Ukraine has “several million people [not loyal to Russia]” who “need to be partially eliminated and partially squeezed out.”
  • “New Russia,” or the territories from Kharkov, Odessa, Zaporozhye, and Dnepropetrovsk, “should be joined to the Russian regions, with full denazification, deukrainization.”
  • Russia should institute a “complete ban on Ukrainian fonts, Ukrainian texts, programs on [the] Ukrainian language, on teaching Ukrainian – ie completely.
  • These implementations will cause a “surplus population – let the surplus population go to the [Russian] Far East.”
Former Putin aide Vladislav Surkov in Q&A – Surkov: “I’m Interested in Acting Against Reality” – Actual Comments website (February 26, 2020)
  • Surkov’s “vanity is forever satisfied by the fact that [he] put [his] hand and head into the building of a new Russian state.”
  • There is “no Ukraine,” although there is “Ukrainianism” – a “specific mental disorder. Surprisingly brought to the extreme degree passion for ethnography. Such bloody lore. Muddle instead of the state. There is borscht, Bandera, bandura. But there is no nation.”
  • Donbass “does not deserve such humiliation” of returning to Ukraine. Ukraine “does not deserve such honor.”
Putin – “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” – Kremlin (July 12, 2021)
  • The incorporation of “western Russian lands into the single state” was the product of “common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity.”
  • There is “no historical basis” for the “idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians.”
  • Ukrainization was “often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians.”
  • Modern Ukraine is “entirely the product of the Soviet era” shaped on the “lands of historical Russia.” Hence, Russia “was robbed.”
  • Ukraine’s leaders “began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united [Russia and Ukraine], and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation.”
  • The “slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia” of “radical nationalist groups” have become “defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine “peddle[s] Russophobia” and prefers to “exploit the image of the ‘victim of external aggression.’”
  • Russia and Ukraine together have “always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For [they] are one people.
Medvedev op-ed – “Why Contacts with the Current Ukrainian Leadership are Meaningless” – Kommersant (October 11, 2021)
  • Ukrainian leaders are “people who do not have any stable self-identification. Who are they, what country are they citizens of, what is their historical identity, ethnic component, what gods do they pray to?”
  • There are “no fools to fight for Ukraine. And it is pointless for [Russia] to deal with vassals. Business must be done with the suzerain.”
Putin in press conference (February 8, 2022) and in official remarks (February 21, 2022) – An Independent Legal Analysis of the Russian Federation’s Breaches of the Genocide Convention in Ukraine and the Duty to Prevent – Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy
  • “‘Like it or not, take it, my beauty’” references a “vulgar Russian rhyme about necrophiliac rape, implying an intention to inflict similar destruction on Ukraine and a view of Ukraine as a corpse.”
  • Modern Ukraine is considered to be “entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia.”
  • Russia is “ready to show what real decommunization would mean for Ukraine.”
Putin declaring Russia’s full-scale assault on Ukraine – “Putin Orders ‘Special Military Operation’ for Ukraine” – Bloomberg News (February 24, 2022)
  • The special military operation’s goal is “the protection of people who during eight years, suffer from abuse and genocide from the Kyiv regime.”
  • Whoever tries to stop Russia and “further create threats to [Russia’s] country, to [the Russian] people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead [them] to such consequences that [they] have never faced in [their] history.
Russian victory declaration, accidentally published – “The Offensive of Russia and the New World” – RIA Novosti (February 26, 2022)
  • There will be no more Ukraine as anti-Russia.”
  • Vladimir Putin has asserted a “historic responsibility by deciding not to leave the solution of the Ukrainian question to future generations.”
  • Ukraine’s return to Russia will not mean its statehood’s “liquidation”; instead, Ukraine will be “reorganized, re-established and returned to its natural state of part of the Russian world.”
    • Analysis: This victory declaration “made it clear that Russia’s aim in this war was to destroy the Ukrainian state, destroy the Ukrainian nation, and then leave the remaining populace as a kind of unformed mass that could be colonized in any way the Russian leadership desired.” – Snyder
  • This war is a “response to the geopolitical expansion of the Atlanticists, this is Russia’s return of its historical space and its place in the world.”
Pro-Putin pundit Timofei Sergeitsev op-ed – “What Should Russia Do with Ukraine?” – RIA Novosti (April 5, 2022) (alternative translation by Mariia Kravchenko on Medium)
  • Nazi, Bandera Ukraine, the enemy of Russia and the West’s tool for the destuction of Russia, we do not need.”
  • The “denazification” of Ukraine entails “a set of measures in relation to the nazified mass of the population, which technically cannot be subjected to direct punishment as war criminals.”
    • Analysis: Denazification in “official Russian usage just means the destruction of the Ukrainian state and nation. A ‘Nazi,’ as [Sergeitsev’s article] explains, is simply a human being who self-identifies as Ukrainian. According to [him], the establishment of a Ukrainian state thirty years ago was the ‘nazification of Ukraine.’ Indeed ‘any attempt to build such state’ has to be a ‘Nazi’ act.” – Snyder
  • There is “no significant distinction between the APU [Armed Forces of Ukraine] and the so-called national battalions, as well as the territorial defense that joined these two types of military formations. All of them are equally involved in extreme cruelty against the civilian population, equally guilty of the genocide of the Russian people, do not comply with the laws and customs of war. War criminals and active Nazis should be exemplarily and exponentially punished.”
  • In addition to Ukrainian defense forces, “a significant part of the masses, which are passive Nazis, accomplices of Nazism, are also guilty. They supported and indulged Nazi power.”
  • These masses can be denazified through “re-education, which is achieved by ideological repression (suppression) of Nazi attitudes and strict censorship: not only in the political sphere, bit also necessarily in the sphere of culture and education.”
  • The terms of denazification can in no way be less than one generation, which must be born, grow up and reach maturity under the conditions of denazification.”
  • Denazification will coincide with “de-Ukrainization – a rejection of the large-scale artificial inflation of the ethnic component of self-identification of the population of the territories of historical Little Russia and New Russia, begun by the Soviet authorities.”
    • Analysis: “As a historian of mass killing, I am hard pressed to think of many examples where states explicitly advertise the genocidal character of their own actions right at the moment those actions become public knowledge. From a legal perspective, the existence of sucha text (in the larger context of similar statements and Vladimir Putin’s repeated denial that Ukraine exists) makes the charge of genocide far easier to make. Legally, genocide means both actions that destroy a group in whole or in part, combined with some intention to do so. Russia has done the deed and confessed to the intention.” – Snyder
    • Analysis: History reveals that we “should take dictators at their word. Those who incite genocide usually attempt to follow through. It is not unusual for them to publicize their campaigns through propagandists and media. Adolf Hitler had Joseph Goebbels, Alfred Rosenberg and others doing this work. Putin has Medvedev and the pundits of Russian state media. Finally, the more that Russian soldiers embrace the campaign of ‘de-Ukrainization,’ the more brutal the war will become – and the harder it will be for Russia to find an exit short of total victory or defeat. Russian society’s complacency becomes complicity in murder.” – Hirsch
  • Ukraine is historically “impossible as a nation state, and attempts to ‘build’ one naturally lead to Nazism. Ukrainism is an artificial anti-Russian construction that does not have its own civilizational content, a subordinate element of an alien and alien civilization.”
    • Analysis: This article is different from other Russian news sources for “two critical reasons. It was published amid Russia’s predatory war of aggression – while atrocities were being committed in Bucha, Mariupol and other towns, and while Ukrainian civilians were being kidnapped, deported and sent to filtration camps. It was being published during extreme wartime censorship in Russia, indicating its approval by the Russian authorities.” – Hirsch
  • Politically, the “Bandera elite must be eliminated [as] its re-education is impossible.” Ukraine itself requires “cleans[ing] of Nazi elements… integrating this statehood into close cooperation with the Russian department for the denazification of Ukraine.” Russia will then create a “tribunal for crimes against humanity in the former Ukraine [and] in this regard act as the guardian of the Nuremberg Trials.”
  • Initial steps of denazification, according to Sergeitsev, can be defined as follows:
    • Liquidation of armed Nazi formations, as well as the military, informational, educational infrastructure that ensures their activity;
    • Installation of the Russian information space;
    • The withdrawal of educational materials and the prohibition of educational programs at all levels containing Nazi ideological guidelines; and
    • Lustration, publication of the names of the accomplices of the Nazi regime, involving them in forced labor to restore the destroyed infrastructure as punishment for Nazi activities (from among those who will not be subject to the death penalty or imprisonment).”
Vladimir Solovyov, pro-Kremlin presenter – Russian State TV Excerpts – translated by Francis Scarr of BBC Monitoring (April 7, 2022)
  • “Vladimir Volfovich [former member of the State Duma] made a genuine forecast. And it sounded like this: Zelensky is the last president of Ukraine because after him there will not be any Ukraine!”
Russian State TV Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan and other pro-Putin figures or officials – “Ominous rhetoric gains ground in Russia as its forces founder in Ukraine” – Washington Post (April 13, 2022)
  • “On state television, a military analyst doubled down on Russia’s need to win and called for concentration camps for Ukrainians opposed to the invasion. Two days later, the head of the defense committee in the lower house of parliament said it would take 30 to 40 years to ‘reeducate’ Ukrainians.”
  • The editor-in-chief of the television news network RT described “Ukrainians’ determination to defend their country as ‘collective insanity.’ ‘It’s no accident that we call them Nazis,’ said Margarita Simonyan, who also heads the Kremlin-backed media group that operates the Sputnik and RIA Novosti news agencies. ‘What makes you a Nazi is your bestial nature, your bestial hatred and your bestial willingness to tear out the eyes of children on the basis of nationality.’”
  • “In late March, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a probe into whether Ukrainian students’ textbooks ‘target Children with hatred of Russia and the Russian language’ and ‘distort history.’
Karen Shakhnazarov, pundit and filmmaker – “‘There will be no mercy’ Putin mouthpiece warns of ‘concentration camps, sterilisation’” – excerpts from Russian State TV channel Rossiya 1 via Express (May 4, 2022, via May 5, 2022 article) 
  • Opponents of “Letter Z” must “‘understand that if they are counting on mercy, no, there will be no mercy for them. It all became very serious. In this case it means concentration camps, re-education, sterilization’”
Medvedev – Telegram posts by Medvedev – Telegram (March 17 – June 7, 2022) 
  • Russia fights for a “world order” in which there is “no place for frostbitten Nazis, historical lies and genocide [against the Russian people].” (March 17)
  • Negotiations with Ukraine aim to “fix the neutral status of Ukraine, its demilitarization, the rejection of the use of Nazi ideological laws that were adopted in this country. Well, and a number of positions that the Russian Federation considers to be most important.” (March 26)
  • Deep Ukrainianism” is a fictional concept “fueled by anti-Russian poison and an all-consuming lie about its identity, is one big fake. This phenomenon has never happened in history. And now it doesn’t exist.” (April 5)
  • Ukraine will “suffer its own fate” after having “mentally transformed into the Third Reich, having written down the names of Jews and Nazi henchmen into history books. There she is dear, such Ukraine.” (April 5)
  • Russia’s “most important goal” is to “change the bloody and full of false myths consciousness of a part of today’s Ukrainians.” (April 5)
  • “History will put everything in its place and show which side the truth is on. Who became the custodian of true Christian values, protecting them from atheists, bandits, and nationalists.” (April 27)
  • “Zelensky has no other way to stay in office. If, of course, the position itself remains.” (May 3)
  • “I am often asked why my Telegram posts are so harsh. The answer is I hate them. They are bastards and geeks. They want death for us, Russia. And as long as I’m alive, I will do everything to make them disappear.” (June 7)
Russian State TV Excerpts – translated by Francis Scarr of BBC Monitoring (May 8, 2022)
  • Ukraine is in thrall to a Nazi-inspired ‘neo-pagan’ religion based on violence.”
  • “The ‘bloody paganism’ was founded by Ukrainian ‘accomplices of the Nazis’ during WWII and later cultivated by the diaspora in the US.”
Journalist Victoria Nikiforova op-ed – “It’s Time to Repeat” – RIA Novosti (May 9, 2022)
  • “Fighting is underway in eastern Ukraine. The Nazis torture and kill the inhabitants of the occupied territories.”
  • Russia is defined by “social harmony – difficult to achieve, but absolutely real”
  • The Ukrainian special operation has become Russia’s “war for peace. And not only in Russia, but also for world peace.”
Solovyov – Russian State TV Excerpts – translated by media monitor Julia Davis (May 24, 2022)
  • “The troops of LPR and DPR are fighting for their land, and now I have a question: What would the Ukrainian territorial defense fight for? None of it is their land.”
  • “We’re telling people: come to your senses! Remember who you are! Look at what’s been done to you! Look who conquered you! Remember your great past! Wake up, stop lying to yourselves! And that is the main point. Why are they making up a language for you? You are Rusyns [Slavic people] – do you need that language that Zelenskyy is trying to speak? Look at the history that is being made up for you, the religion that is being made up for you. That’s why people are for us. Westerners say, ‘Why don’t they greet you with flowers’? Yes, they are, big time. Despite their fear, they’re welcoming us, and they will welcome us even more when they understand that we’re never leaving.”
Dmitry Rogozin (Director General of Russia’s Roskosmos State Space Agency, former Deputy Prime Minister) – comments on his Twitter feed and Telegram channel (June 13, 2022)
  • “In general, what has grown up in the place of Ukraine is an existential threat to the Russian people, Russian history, Russian language and Russian civilization. If we do not put an end to them, as, unfortunately, our grandfathers did not do away with them, we will have to die, but end up at an even greater cost to our grandchildren. So let’s get this over with. Once and forever. For our grandchildren.”
Medvedev, comment on his Telegram channel (June 15, 2022)
  • “I saw a message that Ukraine, under Lend-Lease, wants to receive LNG from its overseas owners with payment for delivery in 2 years. Otherwise, next winter it will simply freeze. Just a question. And who said that in two years Ukraine will even exist on the world map?
IMAGE: People react as they gather close to a mass grave in the town of Bucha, just northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on April 3, 2022. (Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)