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Russia’s war in Ukraine: Live updates

Erik Mose, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, attends an interview after a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on September 23. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

A United Nations panel of experts says their investigation has found evidence that war crimes have been committed during Russia’s war in Ukraine, including cases of rape and torture of children.

“In the cases we have investigated, the age of victims of sexual and gendered-based violence ranged from four to 82 years,” Erik Møse, chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. “The Commission has documented cases in which children have been raped, tortured, and unlawfully confined. Children have also been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons.”

The panel said that it had identified two incidents of ill-treatment of Russian soldiers in Ukrainian captivity.

The three human rights experts on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine traveled to Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, visiting 27 towns and interviewing more than 150 people.

Speaking at the UN Security Council on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the “increased activity of international justice,” calling it “undoubtedly a put-up job.”

The Commission said “some Russian Federation soldiers” have been responsible for sexual and gender-based violence.

“These acts amounted to different types of violations of rights, including sexual violence, torture, and cruel and inhuman treatment. There are examples of cases where relatives were forced to witness the crimes,” it added. 

Møse also noted that a number of attacks investigated by the panel “had been carried out without distinguishing between civilians and combatants, including cluster munition attacks and airstrikes on populated areas.”

Commission members “were struck by the large number of executions in the areas that we visited,” Møse added.

“Common elements of such crimes include the prior detention of the victims as well as visible signs of executions on bodies, such as hands tied behind backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats,” he reported. “Some of the victims reported that after initial detention by Russian forces in Ukraine, they were transferred to the Russian Federation and held for weeks in prisons. Interlocutors described beatings, electric shocks, and forced nudity, as well as other types of violations in such detention facilities.”

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