Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine

Inside a cell in a pre-trial detention center, allegedly used by Russian forces to imprison and torture civilians, on November 16, in Kherson, Ukraine. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

There is “increasing evidence” of “systemic war crimes” committed in “all areas where Russian forces have been deployed” in Ukraine, a senior US State Department official said on Monday.

“This includes deliberate, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against the civilian population and elements of the civilian infrastructure”, abuses against civilians and prisoners of war and “efforts to conceal these crimes”, reports of executions, of torture and sexual violence, United States Goodwill Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack told reporters during a call.

Russia has been accused of deliberately targeting Ukraine’s civilian electricity grid with the aim of depriving the civilian population of electricity and heating, an act that would amount to a war crime.

Van Schaack said it was difficult to determine that particular individual strikes would be war crimes, noting that “each individual strike must be assessed against whether there were military objectives nearby, or whether they are ‘were purely civilian objects’, but said ‘there is a constant pattern of attacks on civilian elements.

Van Schaack also pointed to Russia’s “construction of a vast transnational infrastructure of filter operations, to which thousands of Ukrainian citizens have now been subjected”, which is a violation of international law.

“There are compelling reports describing physical and psychological abuse, including summary executions, in the operations, forcible transfer and deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children, who were forcibly abducted and adopted by families in Russia,” she said.

The United States supports the International Criminal Court, the Ukrainian Attorney General’s Office – which “has already identified thousands of incidents that may constitute war crimes” – the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, a joint investigative team European, said Van Schaack.


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