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Crimes Against Humanity

This past Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris gave a speech at the Munich Security Conference, saying that the United States has determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.


AP News reported a quote from her speech saying, “Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population — gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape, and deportation, execution-style killings, beatings, and electrocution.


In response to this, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov spoke out through Telegram about how the United States is using this as a way to justify its support toward Ukraine.


We consider such insinuations as an attempt, unprecedented in terms of its cynicism, to demonize Russia in the course of a hybrid war, unleashed against us.” 


While remarks have been made on both sides, evidence of these crimes against humanity varies among different sources. 


CNN pointed out that Kamala Harris specifically mentioned several instances of these atrocities as evidence. One was the bombing of a maternity hospital which resulted in the death of a pregnant mother. Another was the bombing of a theater in Mariupol where 300 people were found dead. The last was the images that came out from the city of Bucha where residents told of what they went through under Russian occupation before being liberated by the Ukrainian military. Over 450 deaths were counted in Bucha according to CBS News


Other sources like CNBC News reported that Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said that around 65,000 war crimes have been verified as having been committed.


In a speech at Georgetown Law School in Washington, Kostin said, “We have all witnessed with horror the evidence of atrocities committed in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Kherson, Kharkiv regions, and other liberated cities and towns. These crimes are not incidental or accidental, they include indiscriminate shelling of civilians, willful killing, torture, conflict-related sexual violence, looting, and forced displacement on a massive scale.


One particular source that has brought up numerous reports is the combined sourcing of Frontline and AP News where PBS News puts them together on its website. These three big news organizations have compiled numerous incidents and reports based on many sources. 


On PBS News, it states the methodology in detail, “The Associated Press and FRONTLINE are examining the video, photographs, audio, eyewitness accounts, news stories, and official documents for evidence of war crimes. The sources include AP journalists on the ground; other news organizations; social media posts; international human rights organizations; the Ukrainian military and government; and local nongovernmental organizations.


So far, about 636 incidents have been verified by both Frontline and AP News as potential war crimes committed in Ukraine. These list direct attacks on civilians, attacks where children were killed, attacks in the city of Bucha, attacks on food and/or water facilities, and attacks in the city of Bakhmut, just a few of several other reported types of war crimes. 


Out of those incidents, the most common was direct attacks on civilians which consisted of bombings, missile attacks, and shootings in civilian areas. A total of 219 incidents have been put down across all regions of Ukraine. These reports also include those that had civilian deaths and areas where no civilian deaths were reported. 


The second most common were incidents involving attacks on residential buildings. About 146 were reported which also included those that had deaths and no deaths. The third most attacks were at a school or university with 93 reported with civilian infrastructure ranked fourth with 90 attacks.


While there are numerous reports of these incidents occurring in Ukraine, there has been other evidence of crimes against humanity that have occurred through photos and videos.


AP News posted a video called “Crime Scene: Bucha | How Russian soldiers ran a ‘cleansing’ operation in the Ukrainian city” which through video footage, interviews, and photos, gives a dark and substantial display of what happened in this city. (Viewer Discretion is Advised). The video, displays incidents, aftermaths, and interviews of the tragedies that occurred. These mainly showed what the citizens suffered which includes executions committed by Russian soldiers, getting tortured, and other violent atrocities that were committed in the city.


Toward the end of the video, it points out the full scale of this particular crime, “The full scale of the horrors, more than 450 deaths wouldn’t be known for months. What happened along Yablonska Street is case number one for Ukraine War Crimes prosecutors.”


Another source of crimes Russian forces committed comes from BBC where two Ukrainians from the city of Izyum were interviewed. They both shared their experience when the Russians detained them out of suspicion of sabotage. 


The first was Mykhalio Ivanovych. He shared, “They beat me everywhere. They broke my arm. One Russian was holding it and another one beat it with a pipe. They beat me to the point where I didn't feel anything. They used an electric current on my fingertips - how they burned.


The other, Maxim, was a former journalist and he said, “They attach electrodes and connect a current, and you begin to shake. I was falling from the chair. The pain was too strong. It was pitch black. They tortured us in complete darkness. They had headlamps. I asked my cellmates how long I had been absent, and they told me 40 minutes. I think that you black out after 15 to 20 minutes.


The same article, shared by Lead investigator Leonid Pustovit has explored several buildings not far from the location where these two along with many others were tortured. A Russian daily newspaper, a sign that said ‘police’ in Russian and an axe having traces of blood on it showed clear signs of Russian forces have occupied the area along with proof of civilians being tortured.


They were called 'the ones with extremist views'. They brought them here and interrogated them. They were kept on a short leash.


With more reports coming in, the evidence of crimes against humanity occurring in Ukraine continues to grow as the conflict now reaches the one-year mark.

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