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May 18, 2022

New ABA Legal Fact Check explores whether Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 — A new ABA Legal Fact Check released today examines the legal concept of genocide in U.S. and international law, from its historical roots stemming from Nazi atrocities during World War II to whether Russia is committing genocide today with its invasion of Ukraine.

Both U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have said that the Russian actions in Ukraine constitute genocide. But while the word “genocide” is used in popular parlance internationally to describe atrocities directed at certain minority groups, the term itself involves a complex legal concept that has a narrow meaning first advanced by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin to capture the atrocities of the Holocaust 80 years ago.

As the new ABA Legal Fact Check explains, prosecution of nations or individuals in either international courts or the U.S. must meet a very high bar by addressing the intent of the alleged perpetrator to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public through case and statutory law to find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. The web portal for ABA Legal Fact Check includes a search button for its content, which is grouped by legal topics in 10 different categories, including COVID-19 legal issues, presidential authority, election law, and police and security. Most recently, ABA Legal Fact Check explored whether Russian oligarchs have the legal right to due process in the face of U.S. sanctions.

The URL for the site is

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.