UN Has 'Credible Information' on Ukrainian Troops' Torture of Russian PoWs
15:27 GMT 10.05.2022 (Updated: 16:21 GMT 10.05.2022)
© AP Photo / Felipe Dana / Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) servicemen enter a building during an operation to arrest suspected Russian collaborators in Kharkiv, UkraineSecurity Service of Ukraine (SBU) servicemen enter a building during an operation to arrest suspected "Russian collaborators" in Kharkov, Ukraine
© AP Photo / Felipe Dana / Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) servicemen enter a building during an operation to arrest suspected Russian collaborators in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Russian investigators have spent years collecting evidence related to suspected war crimes by the Ukrainian military and neo-Nazi fighters against civilians and militia members in the Donbass and, more recently, against Russian troops taking part in the ongoing "de-Nazification" operation in Ukraine.
The United Nations has "credible" evidence on the torture of Russian military personnel by Ukrainian forces, Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine chief Matilda Bogner has said.
"We have received credible information of torture, ill-treatment and incommunicado detention by [the] Ukrainian Armed Forces of prisoners of war belonging to the Russian Armed Forces and affiliated armed groups", Bogner said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
"We continue to see the publication of videos, which show inhumane treatment, including prisoners from both sides being coerced to make statements, apologies and confessions, and other forms of humiliation. This violates fundamental rules of international humanitarian law", the official added.
Bogner urged both Ukraine and Russia to "promptly and effectively investigate" all allegations of the torture and abuse of prisoners of war, and for both sides to "effectively control and instruct their forces to stop any further violations from occurring".
8 April 2022, 20:45 GMT
The UN official also provided an update on the plight of civilians in the conflict zone, saying her agency could corroborate a total of 7,061 civilian casualties, including 3,381 fatalities and 3,680 injuries, since 24 February, adding that the real number was likely higher.
"The high number of civilian casualties and the extent of destruction and damage to civilian objects strongly suggest violations of the principles governing the conduct of hostilities, namely distinction, including the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks, proportionality and precautions", Bogner said.
The official also cited allegations of rape and threats of sexual violence in the conflict area, and the disappearance and forced detention of civilians by both Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Russian officials and the Russian military have accused the US and Europe of turning a blind eye to suspected war crimes being committed in Ukraine - not just since the Russia-led operation in Ukraine began in February, but since Kiev kicked off its punitive "anti-terrorist operation" in Donbass in the spring of 2014. This includes the alleged kidnapping, detention, torture and execution of hundreds of civilians and militia fighters in Donbass, and the filming of the torture and murder of detained Russian prisoners of war.
Kiev, in turn, has accused Moscow of war crimes against civilians, including the cold-blooded murder of over 300 civilians in the Kiev suburb of Bucha in early April. Investigations into these allegations by Russian and independent Western media have cast doubt on these claims, citing the timeline of the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area, the deployment of neo-Nazi national guard formations in the town to punish "Russian collaborators", as well as the white armbands characteristic of Russian military personnel and Russian military issue food rations found among many of the victims, among other evidence.
Western officials and media have largely continued to blame Russia for the crime. On Tuesday, during an unannounced trip to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock vowed to "hold the perpetrators" of the massacre "accountable".