A new United Nations Human Rights report has found that Russian forces carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on Ukraine, including torture and killings that could amount war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
The report from the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, set up by the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March last year, concluded that Russian armed forces carried out attacks with explosive weapons in populated areas with apparent disregard for civilian harm and suffering.
The commission also documented a small number of violations committed by Ukrainian armed forces, including likely indiscriminate attacks and two incidents that qualify as war crimes.
The Commission’s findings confirm widespread reporting on atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine, and after the United States determined in February that Russia had committed crimes against humanity.
Erik Mose is Chair of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine says “The commission has concluded that the Russian authorities have committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, in addition to a wide range of war crimes, including the war crime of excessive incidental death, injury or damage, willful killings, torture, inhuman treatment, unlawful confinement, rape as well as unlawful transfer and deportation.”
The commission found that Russian armed forces used weapons that struck both military and civilian objects without distinction; using weapons including unguided bombs dropped from aircraft in populated areas or inaccurate long-range missiles including a strike on a theatre in Mariupol in March last year, and an attack on a train station at Kramatorsk in April 2022 killing 59 people; or the attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk that killed 21 in June of the same year,
Mose explains, “The commission has concluded that Russian armed forces have committed indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, which are violations of international humanitarian law. Such attacks have impacted objects which are purely civilian in nature, such as residential buildings, hospitals, shops and places with large concentration of civilians.”
The report is based on more than 500 interviews as well as satellite images and visits to detention sites and graves.
“The commission has also found that the waves of attacks from 10th of October to 22 on Ukraine’s energy related infrastructure by the Russian armed forces and the use of torture by Russian authorities may amount to crimes against humanity, the commission recommends further investigations,” adds Mose.
Russia has consistently rejected claims of atrocity crimes in Ukraine and did not co-operate with the investigation.
The Commission’s finding comes as the Prosecutor to the International Criminal Court in the Hague is due to open two war crimes cases tied to Russia’s invasion and is expected to seek warrants for individuals involved in the alleged abduction of Ukrainian children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
The warrants have to be approved by a pre-trial judicial chamber – that said, Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and is unlikely to hand over individuals implicated.