The Russian military has engaged in “patterns” of behavior that amount to violations of international law in Ukraine, according to a new report.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe released a report on Wednesday detailing alleged violations of humanitarian and human rights law, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The investigation began on March 14 and the report was submitted on April 5, limiting the findings to this period.
Russian troops deported around 500,000 civilians from Ukraine to Russia, taking them to “filtration camps in Russia near the Ukrainian border”, the report said, citing the Ukrainian parliament’s human rights ombudsman.
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While Russia has denied responsibility for these deportations and most other allegations, investigators noted that “if (some of) these deportations were forced (including because Russia created a coercive environment in which these civilians had no choice but to leave Russia) and since they necessarily concern civilians who have fallen into the power of Russia as the occupying power, this violates in each case [international humanitarian law] and constitutes a war crime.
In addition to reports of deportations, the OSCE alleges that Russian forces raped and sometimes gang-raped female civilians. Russian soldiers assaulted 25 women between the ages of 14 and 24 who were hiding in a basement in Bucha, a kyiv suburb where atrocities reportedly occurred after evaluators were evacuated.
A mass grave filled with hundreds of bodies was discovered there, while other civilians were found shot with their wrists bound behind them.
“In particular, the Mission takes note of the allegations received after the official conclusion of its investigations into the summary executions of a large number of civilians during the Russian occupation of villages near kyiv, in particular Bucha and on the occasion of the withdrawal of Russian forces. . There are photos and videos of civilians killed in the streets partly with their hands tied and reports of one or more mass graves,” the report said. “This evidence points to a major war crime and a crime against humanity committed by Russian forces. Such an event deserves and requires serious international investigation, on the spot, with forensic experts.”
Earlier this week, Ukraine’s attorney general’s office said it had begun investigating about 5,800 allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian forces.
Russian forces also used the Red Cross emblem as a disguise for their “non-medical military vehicles”, which is a violation of international law, and used Ukrainian flags, uniforms or army vehicles and police, a white flag and OSCE symbols for the same reason.
A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross last week drove a convoy of cars and private buses carrying more than 1,000 people from Berdyansk to Zaporizhzhia, but they were unable to get to Mariupol because “the security conditions on the ground prevented him from entering. »
Mariupol, a key port city in the southern part of Ukraine, has faced a heavy weight of Russian military aggression because its location is of strategic value to the Russians.
Russian forces shelled a maternity hospital, bombed a Mariupol theater that served as a shelter as residents spelled the word “children” in Russian at the front and back of the facility to prevent such an attack, and bombed a school that was housing hundreds of people in the city.
OSCE investigators concluded the attack on the theater ‘must have been deliberate’ based on satellite images and Russian statements after the attack alleging it was staged and then changing d ‘explanation. Accordingly, the attack “constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law”. and those responsible have committed a war crime.”
The Mariupol hospital target was one of 52 health facilities that were attacked from the start of the invasion until March 22.
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“In Ukraine, a database collecting data on destroyed healthcare facilities counts 52 facilities affected between February 24, 2022 and March 22, 2022,” the report said. “The [United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine], present on the ground, verified 74 incidents in which medical facilities were affected to varying degrees, including 46 hospitals, seven psycho-neurological facilities and 21 other medical facilities. As a result, 54 medical facilities were damaged, 10 destroyed and two looted. Sixty-one of the attacks that damaged medical facilities took place in government-controlled territory.”
At least 50 people were killed and nearly 100 others injured following a Russian attack on a crowded train station in the Donetsk region, which, like the Bucha atrocities, occurred after the closure of the investigators operation window.
President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he believed Russian actions in Ukraine amounted to “genocide” at a biofuels event in Menlo, Iowa, marking the first time a member of his administration described the situation as such.
“It has become increasingly clear that Putin is trying to erase the idea of being Ukrainian,” he reiterated later in the day, adding: “The evidence is mounting. It’s different from last week. More and more evidence is coming out, literally, of the horrible things the Russians did in Ukraine. »