New report details Russian torture of Ukrainian civilians
Washington — An international investigation has found grim new evidence of war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, identifying cases of direct targeting of civilians, torture, rape and forced deportations.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a regional security organization, issued a report Thursday detailing “clear patterns of serious violations of international humanitarian law” committed mainly by the Russian army.
The report describes in vivid detail the torture of Ukrainian civilians by Russian troops.
In a summer camp in Bucha, just outside Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv that was occupied for over two weeks by Russian forces, the investigators said they found a series of torture chambers.
“In Zabuchchya, a village in the Bucha district, 18 mutilated bodies of murdered men, women, and children were discovered in a basement: some had their ears cut off, while others had their teeth pulled out,” according to the report.
Speaking Thursday in Vienna, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter described a Russian missile attack on the central city of Vinnytsia that killed more than 20 people, including 3 children, as “disgusting,” but “a reality that we contend with each and every day.”
Ukrainian emergency services showed images of a child’s dead body lying on the ground next to a play stroller she had been pushing down the road with her mother when the missiles struck.
In an interview with CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov called the strike the latest proof that his country is at war with “a state of terrorists.”
“They’re using that weapon against civilian people, against the civilian facilities, against the hospitals… against the kindergartens,” he said.
The OSCE report says that as Russia is increasingly unable to muster enough of its own forces, it has recently begun resorting to conscripting Ukrainian men between the ages 18-65 from territory it occupies and sending them straight to the front lines, with little to no training.
“The escalation, and rising casualty rates, have begun to spark anger even among pro-Russian communities. Several videos posted online purportedly show the wives of Donetsk and Luhansk conscripts demanding assistance for their husbands and asking why men with no military background are being sent to fight,” according to the report.
Incidences of gender-based violence have remained prevalent throughout the war, the report states. Natalia Karbowska, co-founder and director of strategic development for the Ukrainian Women’s Fund, suggested during a June U.N. Security Council briefing that “the Russian Federation is using sexual violence and rape as instruments of terror to control civilians.”
In one instance, 25 girls aged 14 to 24 were allegedly kept in a basement in Bucha where they were gang-raped by Russian troops. Nine of the girls became pregnant, according to Ukraine’s Commissioner for Human Rights.
Russian President Vladimir Putin bestowed the honorary title of “guard” on the military unit accused of war crimes in Bucha, according to a Russian presidential decree.
In a Facebook post, the Russian Embassy in the U.S. dismissed the report as an attempt by Washington “to vilify the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” which it suggested was due to “dissatisfaction with the success of a special military operation.” The Putin regime has consistently referred to the invasion of Ukraine as a “military operation.” Referring to it as a war can land Russians in prison.
The OSCE report also discusses “filtration centers,” set up by Russia’s occupying forces, where Ukrainian civilians “are separated from others and often simply disappear.”
The report says detained individuals are handed over to authorities in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where some are sentenced to death.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for an immediate end to Russia’s “filtration” operations and for the release of detained Ukrainian civilians. Russian authorities have deported between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, deliberately separating Ukrainian children from their parents, according to the Biden administration.
“The unlawful transfer and deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians and is a war crime,” Blinken said in a statement Wednesday. “Russian authorities must release those detained and allow Ukrainian citizens forcibly removed or coerced into leaving their country the ability to promptly and safely return home.”