Russian troops have raped and tortured children in Ukraine, carried out “a large number” of executions and committed other war crimes, according to a United Nations investigation by legal experts.
Set up by the UN to investigate the conduct of the war, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry delivered its chilling findings on Friday in Geneva, describing a long list of abuses and atrocities in four regions.
“Based on the evidence gathered by the commission, it concluded that war crimes were committed in Ukraine,” Erik Mose, chairman of the three-member commission, told the UN Human Rights Council. UN.
Mose, a Norwegian judge, said the commission has documented cases in which children were “raped, tortured and unlawfully detained”.
“There are examples of cases where relatives have been forced to witness crimes,” he added. “In the cases we investigated, the ages of victims of sexual and gender-based violence ranged from 4 to 82 years old.”
Children have also been killed and injured in “indiscriminate attacks” by Russian forces using explosive weapons, he said.
Mose said he and his colleagues “were struck by the large number of executions in the areas we visited”.
The commission is investigating executions in 16 towns and settlements and has “credible allegations regarding many other cases of executions, which we are documenting further”, he said.
Execution cases often featured “the victims’ prior detention as well as visible signs of executions on the bodies, such as hands tied behind their backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and throats slit,” according to Mose.
For Ukrainians unlawfully detained, witnesses “provided us with consistent accounts of ill-treatment and torture”, he said.
The commission’s update follows other war crimes allegations from international human rights groups, Western governments and Ukrainian authorities, including the recent discovery of a mass burial in the eastern town of Izyum.
The commission also uncovered two cases of “ill-treatment of Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian forces”, he said. “Although few in number, such cases continue to be the focus of our attention.”
The commission focused on Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, visiting 27 towns and settlements and interviewing 150 victims and witnesses.
As it continues its investigation, it will look into the forcible transfer of people and the alleged accelerated adoption of children, Mose said.
The United States has accused Russia of interrogating, detaining and forcibly deporting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia. An unknown number of children are said to have been adopted by Russian families. The alleged deportations represent a war crime, violating the Geneva Conventions, according to US officials.
Russia has denied committing war crimes and has defended its conduct of the war since it launched the invasion on February 24. Russian officials say Ukrainians who moved to Russia went there voluntarily.