Russians have killed, tortured and kidnapped Ukrainians in a systematic pattern that could implicate Vladimir Putin’s top officials in war crimes, a US official warned.
US Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack stressed that it was “very hard to imagine” how such crimes could be committed without the entire chain of command being held accountable.
It comes as Ukrainian prosecutors have identified four locations in Kherson where they suspect enemy soldiers tortured people before leaving the port city.
The Kremlin, in turn, cited videos circulating the internet Friday of suspected Ukrainian soldiers executing prisoners of war.
“We’re obviously watching this closely,” Ms. Van Schaack told reporters in Washington.
“It is very important to emphasize that martial law applies equally to all parties: both the attacking state and the defending state, and to the same extent.”
Nine months after the large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the devastating human cost is clear.
Thousands of civilians were killed or injured while 13 million Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes.
Mrs. Van Schaack emphasized that there are strong indications that the Russian raids were not accidental.
She said war crimes were committed in all regions where Russian troops were stationed.
“This includes deliberate, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians and parts of civilian infrastructure,” she added.
“We see abuses against civilians and prisoners of war in custody and attempts to cover up these crimes.
“We have reports of civilians killed execution-style with their hands tied.
“We have bodies that show signs of torture. We have horrific stories of gender-based violence, including sexual violence against women and children. ‘
Prosecutors in Ukraine have already identified “thousands of incidents” that could be war crimes, such as in Izium and Bucha.
All this without knowing what is happening in the areas still occupied by the Russian army.
Ms Van Schaack said more evidence will come to light as Ukrainian forces regain control of more territory.
She said: “There are compelling reports detailing physical and psychological abuse, including summary executions, as part of these operations and the forced rendition and deportation, including thousands of Ukrainian children abducted and forcibly adopted by families in Russia.”
“What we see in these images, videos and reports, including testimonials, indicates that these atrocities are not the result of rogue entities or individuals.”
I am Jack Morton and I work in 24 News Recorder. I mostly cover world news and I have also authored 24 news recorder. I find this work highly interesting and it allows me to keep up with current events happening around the world.