Polish president said it’s ‘hard to deny’ genocide in Ukraine after images of civilians killed emerge

“It is hard to deny this, of course. This is a crime which fulfills the features of a genocide, especially if you look at the context of different conversations that are being conducted,” Duda told CNN’s Dana Bash in an exclusive interview in Warsaw , Poland.

Duda said Russian propaganda about Moscow’s goal for the “denazification” of Ukraine shows that the country was looking for a false pretext “in order to carry out a massacre.”

“The fact that civilian inhabitants of Ukraine are being killed shows best what the goal of [the] Russian invasion is,” he said through a translator. “The goal of that invasion is simply to extinguish the Ukrainian nation.”

Duda, who was first elected Poland’s president in 2015 and has served through three US administrations, is leading the country as it plays a key role supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia, is grappling with an influx of Ukrainian refugees, is pushing for further sanctions on Russia and is providing weapons to Ukraine.

Millions of Ukrainians fled across the country’s border into Poland. As a member of the NATO alliance, Poland has been one of the countries where US and NATO troops have deployed to bolster NATO’s eastern flank as a deterrent to Russia.

There have been some challenges, too. Ukraine sought Poland’s MiG-29 fighter jets to help in its fight against Russia, but the effort to get the planes to Ukraine fell apart after Poland publicly proposed providing them to the US through a German airbase to ship to Ukraine. The US said such a plan wasn’t feasible, and the planes weren’t sent.

In the interview, Duda questioned the usefulness of diplomatic efforts with Russia at this point in the conflict. He said he wasn’t surprised at the criticism Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki leveled this week toward French President Emmanuel Macron, when Morawiecki said, “Nobody negotiated with Hitler.”

“Dialogue with Russia has no sense,” Duda said. “One has to present very tough conditions to Vladimir Putin. One has to say, ‘Unless you meet these conditions, we don’t have anything to talk about.’ We are going to provide support to Ukraine decisively, we are going to increase sanctions regime, because if you conduct a dialogue which does not achieve anything, it is only a game to buy time by Russia.”

As part of those conditions, Duda called for additional sanctions against Russia and its energy sector, bemoaning Europe’s reliance on Russian energy that has continued even as crippling sanctions have been enacted in other sectors.

“The sanctions regime should be strengthened. I have no doubt whatsoever about this,” Duda said. “This is of course, a very complex task. … The problem however, is that for some countries, well, this is fundamental for them.”

Duda noted that Poland opposed the creation of gas pipelines between Russia and Germany, saying they were “political projects” designed to bypass Poland and the Baltic countries. He called for the dismantling of the new Nord Stream II pipeline.

“Russia is blackmailing not only Germany, right now, Russia is blackmailing, in fact, the entire Europe,” Duda said. “The fact that we’re saying it is impossible to impose embargo on Russian gas, it is not possible to impose embargo on Russian oil right away.”

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