Friday 8 April 2022

From Sarajevo to Kramatorsk


As the BBC reminded us a few days back, this week marks 30 years since the start of the siege of Sarajevo. For nearly four years the city was shelled and bombed from outside by Serb nationalists intent on wiping out the Bosnian and Bosnian-Croat peoples, and was wracked within by massacres and assassinations directed by all against all. To describe these attacks as indiscriminate would be to misunderstand what was happening - the Radovan Karadžić's men knew exactly what they were doing when they rained down mortar bombs on the Markale market.

Today an attack every bit as evil as those that the Bosnian Serb army threw down onto the city of Sarajevo from the surrounding hills during the siege there struck the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. A cluster-bomb delivered by ballistic missile struck a train station packed with women and children trying to evacuate: a clear civilian target, hit with a weapon that cannot possibly have been headed for anywhere else. Mothers with prams, old people, young children, innocent people massacred by a terrible weapon of war designed to cause mass casualties across a wide area. The missile even had "For The Children" stencilled on it in Russian.

It is difficult to consider something like this with equanimity. Logically you can think of all the Russian people you know who are not monsters but ordinary people. Yet this brutal act - and thousands of other similarly bestial acts across Ukraine - was done in their name and on their behalf, by the army that fights under their flag.