The United Nations on Friday released a chilling update on an investigation it opened into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine during the war with Russia.
TNZT International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine reported cases of rape, torture and unlawful detention, according to findings published on the website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“Researching cases related to sexual and gender-based violence poses specific challenges. The Commission has determined that some soldiers of the Russian Federation have committed such crimes,” the panel wrote.
“These acts amounted to various kinds of rights violations, including sexual assault, torture and cruel and inhumane treatment.”
The commission said Russian troops forced family members to witness crimes committed against their loved ones. Those who experienced sexual or gender-based violence ranged in age from 4 to 82 years old, according to the update.
“The Commission has documented cases where children have been raped, tortured and wrongfully imprisoned,” the panel added.
The grim news comes after Ukraine took several victories over the Russian military in recent weeks and took back land in the country’s northeastern and southern regions.
One of the recaptured areas was the city of Izyum, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said state officials excavated a mass grave.
“We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has led to. Bucha, Mariupol, now unfortunately Izyum… Russia leaves death everywhere. And it must be held accountable for that,” Zelensky said last week.
Earlier in the conflict, mass graves were also found in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, and Russian bombs are reported to have hit hospitals and other civilian buildings.
The UN commission was set up in March over allegations of war crimes in Ukraine. The group of three officials was ordered to conduct investigations in the cities of Kiev, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.
The panel wrote in its update that a number of indiscriminate attacks have also been carried out “without distinguishing between civilians and combatants”.
“This included some attacks with cluster munitions or multi-launch missile systems and air strikes in populated areas.”
The panel added that it was “smitten” by the high number of executions in the areas it visited. Common signs of executions were gunshot wounds to the head, hands tied behind their backs, and throats slit.
There have been two processed incidents of the “mistreatment” of Russian troops.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial appeal by the Russian military, sparking mass protests in the country. Hundreds of people have been arrested in connection with the protests.
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