Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Volodymyr Zelenskyy Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday accused Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine amid reports that Russian forces were leaving brutalized bodies and widespread destruction in their wake as they withdrew from the Kyiv region.

Speaking to CBS’ “Face the Nation”, Zelenskyy said, “Indeed, this is genocide — the elimination of the whole nation and the people.”

The Ukrainian leader said Russia's invasion, now in its sixth week, is about "the destruction and extermination" of the more than 100 nationalities in his country.

"We are the citizens of Ukraine and we don't want to be subdued to the policy of the Russian federation, and this is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated," Zelenskyy told CBS, pointing out that the alleged atrocities are happening in "the Europe of the 21st century."

The interview came after footage showed hundreds of bodies in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha as Ukrainian forces retook areas previously occupied by the Russian army.

Germany, France, Britain, the US, and the European Union condemned Russia following the discoveries, with France, Britain, and Germany calling for a war crimes investigation.

In Sunday’s interview, Zelenskyy called the situation in Mariupol and other Russian-controlled cities a "humanitarian disaster," saying they have "lots of bodies" in the streets and no corridor for food, water and supplies. About 100,000 civilians are still believed to be in Mariupol.

Asked if he would accept anything less than a full withdrawal of Russian troops, Zelenskyy said Russian President Vladimir Putin should withdraw all troops to the borders that existed before the invasion on February 24. He said a ceasefire should be the starting point for any discussions about a resolution to the war.

"First the ceasefire, then we can have a meeting with the Russian president," Zelenskyy said.

"Let's simply sit down together — the two of us — and we will discuss a point in time when the end of the war will come," he added, while insisting that Ukraine wants to preserve its sovereignty and "our strong army."

Zelenskyy again urged the West to provide his country with heavier and faster equipment, such as warplanes and more anti-missile systems. He thanked the US and the Biden administration for their support so far, but he said Ukraine needs security guarantees on paper.

"As a president, I'm not satisfied with just assurances," Zelenskyy said.