Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska attends a special dialogue with CEO’s meeting at the Congress center during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, on January 18. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska said Wednesday that victory for Ukraine would mean victory for human rights, and she reiterated a call for the establishment of a special tribunal for purported Russian crimes. 

Via video, Zelenska joined a United Nations special session on human rights violations due to aggression against Ukraine.

“Ukraine’s victory would mean the victory of human rights over lawlessness, torture and destruction. Therefore, justice for Ukraine is justice for the whole world,” Zelenska said in an emotional address. 

“Regardless of country or nationality, we have the right not to be killed in our own homes. However, Ukrainians are being killed in front of the whole world for already a year now,” she said. “Ukrainians are being killed in their own cities, villages, apartments, hospitals, theaters.” 

Zelenska shared pictures of several Ukrainian cities that have seen some of the most intense fighting and large civilian casualties. 

She first discussed the eastern city of Bakhmut, where her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, said last Wednesday the situation is “the most difficult out of all” areas in Ukraine.

Zelenska said there were about 80,000 people living in Bakhmut before the start of the invasion, and now there are about 5,000 left — among them about 150 children.

“Every day, these people go for humanitarian aid and water under heavy shelling. And they die every day,” she said. 

“In any city of Ukraine, in London, Berlin or New York we have the right to live free, not to be killed or tortured. The right not to be blown to pieces by a Russian missile. Each of us has this right,” she said, adding those rights of the residents of Bakhmut and other Ukrainian cities have been violated by Russia.

Zelenska also talked about the city of Dnipro, where a Russian missile slammed into an apartment building, killing dozens. She discussed the city of Mariupol, where she said the Russians demolished the ruins of the drama theater after they struck it while there were hundreds inside. 

Zelenska also talked about Kramatorsk, where at least 50 people, including five children, were killed after Russian forces carried out a missile strike on a railway station as people were trying to evacuate. She also showed pictures of graves in Izium, Bucha and Irpin. 

“A dead city is a terrible monument to human rights,” she said.

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