The mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Vitali Klitschko, called on his counterparts to cut business relations with Russia at the Forum of Mayors on Tuesday.
In a video address to fellow politicians attending the UN Economic Commission for Europe event at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Klitschko said: “Every euro (....), what you receive from Russians or what you send to Russia, has blood (...) and the blood on this money is Ukrainian blood.”
“You can’t be half pregnant,” he said. “Are you for peace and support Ukraine or do you support the aggressors, Russians?”
Klitschko, who was wearing a military jacket, stressed that Ukrainian soldiers but also doctors, actors and musicians were bearing weapons, ready to die for their country.
“We do not just defend our children in our home country. We defend values and principles – the same values and principles that everyone has in the European Union, because our main goal one day is to be part of the European family,” he said.
After a month of intense shelling and failed attempts to capture the Ukrainian capital, Russian troops began retreating on Saturday, leaving behind them a trail of dead bodies, some of them civilians who appear to have been shot in the head with their hands tied behind their backs, according to Ukrainian officials and independent media reports.
Images of dozens of executed civilians and mass graves in Bucha and destroyed buildings in Irpin, on the Northwestern outskirts of Kyiv, have sparked worldwide condemnations and renewed calls for further sanctions from Western leaders.
Klitschko, who visited both cities, described his “shock” upon discovering the scenes and referred to the attacks against Ukrainian population as genocide.
“This is war against civilians, this is war against our country. The main goal is to destroy the country,” said Klitschko, reminding that he is also half Russian.
Klitschko echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zekensky’s call for more sanctions, weapons and humanitarian aid.
He said that following Russian forces' retreat, some Kyiv residents who had fled were now returning to the city but that it wasn’t clear what would happen next.
US officials have warned that this withdrawal could mark the beginning of the next phase of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan as he regroups his forces across Eastern Ukraine.
Klitchkov thanked his fellow mayors for temporarily receiving Ukrainians fleeing their country as well as for sending humanitarian aid.
Around four million Ukrainians have crossed over to neighbouring countries seeking refuge.
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported on Tuesday that 7.1 million have been internally displaced since the beginning of the invasion, further escalating the need for urgent aid and assistance in Ukraine.
Over one third of displaced households reported no income since last month, and 61 per cent reported not earning more than 5,000 Ukrainian hryvnias [$170] since the start of the war.
Financial assistance, transportation, food and health services remain of the utmost importance, the IOM stressed, calling for the urgent need for humanitarian corridors to evacuate trapped communities and deliver necessary aid.