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Trudeau says Russia needs to be accountable for 'genocide' of taking Ukrainian kids

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by Canadian ambassador to Switzerland Patrick Wittmann as he arrives in Zurich, Switzerland on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Trudeau will be attending Ukraine peace summit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by Canadian ambassador to Switzerland Patrick Wittmann as he arrives in Zurich, Switzerland on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Trudeau will be attending Ukraine peace summit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Russia needs to be accountable for "an element of genocide" he says it's committing by taking thousands of Ukrainian children from their home and by trying to erase their Ukrainian identity.

Trudeau stopped short of using the term when he was asked about allegations that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

"Regardless of what a given person or a given country around the world might think of the causes of the war, or the responsibility that Russia wields, everyone can agree that taking kids away from their families, trying to erase their language, their culture — that's an element of genocide," Trudeau told reporters on Sunday morning.

"That's pure colonialism. These are things that Russia needs to be accountable for."

More than 90 countries are attending the summit this weekend, which aims to spark discussions of a path toward ending the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Trudeau co-chaired a session alongside Norway on the human dimension of the war, which touches on prisoners of war, civilian detainees and deported children.

With Russia absent from the summit, the meeting in Switzerland is largely seen as a symbolic effort by Kyiv to rally the international community to Ukraine's cause.

Attendees faced a tricky balancing act, with many chastising Russia for breaking international law while hedging their positions to leave the door open for Moscow to join future peace talks that might bring about an end to the conflict one day.

Several leaders at the summit also stressed the importance of upholding international law everywhere in the world.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric drew parallels between the wars in Ukraine and Gaza during the opening plenary on Saturday.

"We strongly believe that this situation represents a serious violation of international law and human rights, the same principles we must say that are being disregarded by the Israeli government in Gaza," he said.

As the International Court of Justice hears South Africa's genocide case against Israel, Trudeau is holding off on using the term for the situation in Gaza.

"We are continuing to follow the international institutions that we have. we continue to ... watch the work done with the ICC and ICJ. Canada supports international law and we always will," he said.

Earlier this month, Spain became the first European country to ask a United Nations court for permission to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2024.

With files from The Associated Press 

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