Ukrainian citizens have reportedly been tortured, raped and summarily executed by Russian soldiers during the country's invasion of Ukraine, United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack claimed last week.
The reports come as Russia faces mounting outrage from the international community for numerous alleged human rights abuses, including possible war crimes, during its invasion of Ukraine.
For instance, Russian soldiers are believed to have murdered residents of Bucha, where dozens of bodies were found in the streets, and mass graves were reportedly uncovered in the cities of Lyman and Izium, according to Reuters.
"We are nine months into what has become a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and President [Vladimir] Putin’s war against Ukraine continues to result in devastating human costs," said Van Schaack. "Thousands of civilians [have been] killed or wounded; at least 13 million Ukrainian citizens [have been] forced to flee their homes; historic cities have been literally pounded to rubble."
“We have mounting evidence that this aggression has been accompanied by systemic war crimes committed in every region where Russia’s forces have been deployed.”Beth Van Schaack, United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice
Van Schaack added that Russia's invasion violates the United Nations Charter and that there is evidence that war crimes have been "committed in every region where Russia’s forces have been deployed," including "deliberate, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against the civilian population and elements of the civilian infrastructure."
"We’re seeing custodial abuses of civilians and POWs and also efforts to cover up these crimes," she said.
The ambassador noted that there have been reports of Ukrainian civilians being summarily executed with their hands bound, as well as corpses displaying signs of torture and accounts of sexual violence against women and children and other gender-based violence, adding that Ukraine’s Prosecutor General's Office has identified thousands of potential war crimes.
Van Schaack noted that more evidence of atrocities is expected to surface as Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine are liberated.
"I want to also call attention to the fact that Russia’s breaches of international law include the construction of a vast transnational infrastructure of filtration operations to which thousands of Ukrainian citizens have now been subjected," she said.
Van Schaack said that as part of this process, Russian troops reportedly conducted summary executions, and thousands of Ukrainian children in occupied areas were forcibly deported to Russia in violation of international law.
Van Schaack: Russia's conduct in Ukraine consistent with wars in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria
She said that these incidents illustrate "a deeply disturbing pattern of reports of abuse across all areas where we’re seeing Russia’s forces engage," noting that there are similarities between the war in Ukraine and previous Russian military engagements in Chechnya, Georgia and Syria.