Vladimir Putin’s war crimes have been exposed in a damning international report a day after US President Joe Biden accused the Russian strongman of trying to ‘wipe out’ Ukrainians in a ‘genocide’.
An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) report has accused Russia of ‘clear patterns of international humanitarian law violations’ in Ukraine and said if Moscow had respected its international obligations after invading Ukraine on February 24, ‘the number of civilians killed or injured would have remained much lower’.
It comes after the body of ‘beautiful’ Ukrainian teenager Karina Yershova was identified after she was allegedly raped, shot in the back of the head and dumped by Russian troops in a backyard in Bucha, where more than 400 bodies were found after Moscow’s men withdrew earlier this month.
A friend of Yershova’s mother, Olesya Vasylets wrote on Facebook: ‘Friends, terrible news. Racists killed my friend’s daughter Karina Yershova. The pain is terrible. She was mocked, raped, and then shot in the trash. Today my mother found out that she was killed and created a help group. Please help me bury her, I knew this kid for years, taught her English, she was a very bright and talented girl.’
Yershova disappeared early last month and on March 10 her mother on social media appealed for information to ‘help me find my daughter’ who was last seen on ‘energy workers street’ in Bucha. ‘I really hope for help, thank you,’ she said. It is not clear if Yershova was targeted on purpose by Russian forces.
The chief prosecutor from the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, visited Bucha today, describing the Kyiv suburb as a ‘crime scene’ and confirming investigators ‘have reasonable grounds to believe the crimes within the jurisdiction of the court are being committed. We have to pierce the fog of war to get to the truth.’
Biden yesterday warned Putin was trying to ‘wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian’ as he emphasised his use of the word ‘genocide’ to reporters in Iowa while boarding Air Force One to return to Washington, but said he would ‘let the lawyers decide’.
It comes as Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol were putting up a hellish last stand in tunnels under an abandoned Stalingrad-esque steel plant in the besieged southern city in a bid to make conquering the Sea of Azov port as hard as possible for the attackers even as experts warned its fall was ‘inevitable’.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who says his forces are playing a major role in Russia’s battle for Mariupol, said today that more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines had surrendered and urged remaining forces holed up in the Azovstal steel mill to surrender. Ukrainian authorities immediately denied the reports.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said humanitarian corridors used to get people out of cities under Russian attack will not operate today because of poor security though there are more than 100,000 people awaiting evacuation from Mariupol.
Karina Yershova, 16, was found shot in the back of the head after she was allegedly raped and murdered by Russian troops
A friend of Yershova’s mother, Olesya Vasylets wrote on Facebook: ‘Friends, terrible news. Racists killed my friend’s daughter Karina Yershova (pictured) 16-year-old Karina Yershova…. the pain is terrible’
The teenager’s death is the latest discovery in the Bucha massacre which left more than 400 civilians dead, although the exact number killed is still unknown (pictured, officials excavate mass graves in Bucha)
Bodies are exhumed and removed from a mass-grave in the grounds of the St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints church in Bucha
The discovery of more mass graves in Bucha (pictured) comes as Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) published audio that purports to show a Russian woman giving her soldier partner permission to rape locals in Ukraine
Horror tales of sexual abuse in Ukraine
Elena: Raped for 12 hours on April 3 in Kherson after a Russian sympathiser told the troops her husband was a Ukrainian soldier on the front line.
Mother and daughter, 17: The pair were attacked together by three men on March 4
Teenage sisters: Girls aged 15 and 16 were targeted, as they resorted to cutting their hair to appear less attractive to the invaders
Natalya, 33: Gang raped repeatedly for hours while her four-year-old son hid crying in a boiler room after her husband was shot dead
Alexei Bychkov, 24: Russian soldier allegedly arrested after sharing footage of him abusing a Ukrainian baby
Boy, 11: Raped in front of his mother who was tied to a chair and forced to watch
25 women in Bucha aged 14 to 25: Held captive in a basement and systematically raped, with nine now pregnant
Woman, 50: Taken at gunpoint to a neighbouring home, raped and returned home to her husband dead
Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko also tweeted the news today, writing: ’16 y.o. Karina raped by #Russia soldiers and shot in the head. Her mother’s search for her ended as her tortured body was found in #Bucha.’
President Vlodymyr Zelensky early on Wednesday said evidence of ‘inhuman cruelty’ toward women and children in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv continued to surface, including alleged rapes.
According to International law, rape and murder of civilians is a war crime.
An investigation into war crimes is already underway in Ukraine, including into atrocities revealed after Moscow’s retreat from cities and towns around Kyiv.
More than 720 people were killed in Kyiv suburbs that had been occupied by Russian troops and over 200 were considered missing, the Interior Ministry said early Wednesday.
The 110-page OSCE report presented at the permanent council meeting pointed at damaged and destroyed houses, hospitals, schools, water stations and other infrastructure.
The three experts who wrote the report, which included information from NGOs on the ground, said given the timeline and scope of their mission it was not possible to identify war crimes.
‘Nevertheless, the mission found clear patterns of international humanitarian law violations by the Russian forces in their conduct of hostilities,’ the report said.
A man pushes his bike through debris and destroyed Russian military vehicles on a street in Bucha
Civilians inspect the wreckage of a tank in the town of Bucha, the scene of horrific Russian atrocities
Vladyslava Liubarets, a Bucha resident, walks with her family past destroyed Russian military machinery
A satellite image taken of a street in the city of Bucha on March 19 – when Russian forces were in full control of the city – shows dark objects in the road that exactly match where civilian corpses were later discovered by Ukrainian troops
Pictured: Locals carry a coffin on a wheelbarrow as the city was hit by shelling in the small city of Borodyanka near Kiev
Cemetery workers unload bodies of civilians killed in and around Bucha before they are transported to the morgue at a cemetery
War crime prosecutor’s team member speaks on the phone next to buildings that were destroyed by Russian shelling, amid Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, in Borodyanka
The chief prosecutor from the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, (pictured in August 2021) visited Bucha today, describing the Kyiv suburb as a ‘crime scene’
In the Chernihiv region, villagers said more than 300 people had been trapped for almost a month by the occupying Russian troops in the basement of a school and only allowed outside to go to the toilet or cook on open fires.
Ukraine’s prosecutor-general’s office said Tuesday it was also looking into events in the Brovary district, which lies to the northeast of the capital.
It said the bodies of six civilians were found with gunshot wounds in a basement in the village of Shevchenkove and Russian forces were believed to be responsible.
Prosecutors are also investigating allegations that Russian forces fired on a convoy of civilians trying to leave by car from the village of Peremoha in the Brovary district, killing four people including a 13-year-old boy.
In another attack near Bucha, five people were killed including two children when a car was fired upon, prosecutors said.
Forensic investigators began exhuming a mass grave in Bucha containing more than 410 bodies of civilians, according to Ukrainian officials. The UN Human Rights Council has decided to launch an investigation into the violations committed after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Parliament reported
Members of an international team of war crimes prosecutors and Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova (C) during a visit to a mass grave in Bucha, Kyiv (Kiev) area, Ukraine, 12 April 2022
The OSCE mission was set up following a request by Ukraine on March 3.
It covers the period from the invasion on February 24 to April 1, before images of bodies emerged as Russia withdrew from the town of Bucha and elsewhere in northern Ukraine.
The images shocked the world and prompted accusations of Russian war crimes.
But the report noted that ‘evidence points to a major war crime and a crime against humanity committed by the Russian forces’, calling for an international probe.
The report’s authors said it was ‘likely’ other ‘violent acts’ documented, such as targeted killing, enforced disappearance or abductions of civilians, qualified as a crime against humanity.
The report also found the conflict ‘has exerted and continues to exert particularly negative effects’ on women, children, older people and people with disabilities.
It also expressed ‘concern’ over Ukraine’s treatment of prisoners.
‘As this report shows, violations occurred on the Ukrainian as well as on the Russian side. The violations committed by the Russian Federation, however, are by far larger in scale and nature,’ it said.
The report was carried out under the OSCE’s so-called Moscow Mechanism, which allows for an ad hoc team of experts to be established to assist in resolving an OSCE member state’s problems.
Russia declined to contribute to the report, according to the experts, deeming the mechanism ‘largely outdated and redundant’.
The OSCE began in the early 1970s as a forum for dialogue between East and West. The Vienna-based body has 57 member states on three continents – including Russia, Ukraine and the United States.