Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine

Russia is under international fire over war crimes committed during its invasion of Ukraine.

Days after the war began, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into alleged war crimes by Russia.  

And this week, as Russian troops left communities around Kyiv, photos and videos of civilians dead in the streets — seemingly targeted by Russian troops — have circulated widely. 

President Biden has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” for the actions of his country’s troops. 

Russia has denied all accusations of war crimes and targeting civilians.  

Here are the alleged crimes Russia has committed in Ukraine. 

Targeted killings of thousands of civilians 

The United Nations has recorded at least 1,626 civilians killed since the war began but has repeatedly said that number is likely a severe underestimate.  

The dead include a man from Minnesota, reportedly shot by the Russian military while waiting in a bread line.  

In the town of Bucha, Ukrainian citizens were found executed with their bodies lying in the streets.  

“The Ukrainian city of Bucha was in the hands of [Russian] animals for several weeks. Local civilians were being executed arbitrarily, some with hands tied behind their backs, their bodies scattered in the streets of the city,” Ukraine’s defense ministry alleged. 

Targeted destruction of civilian buildings 

Thousands of Ukrainians have been forced into bomb shelters by Russia’s bombing campaign in residential areas not connected to the Ukrainian military.  

A movie theater in Mariupol was attacked in March while hundreds of families with young children were using it as a bomb shelter. The word “children” was written in big letters on the ground on both sides of the theater.  

Dozens of hospitals have been destroyed since the invasion began, including a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol. 

The World Health Organization previously said it has verified 43 attacks on health care facilities and patients in Ukraine. 

Other targeted buildings include residential homes, apartment buildings, shopping malls and schools.  

Russian soldiers raping women 

Ukraine opened an investigation at the end of March after a civilian women said she was raped by two Russian soldiers.  

The woman said the soldiers killed her husband and then raped her while her son was in another room crying.  

“He told me to take my clothes off. Then they both raped me one after the other. They didn’t care that my son was in the boiler room crying. They told me to go shut him up and come back,” the woman told The Times of London.  

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba previously said there have been multiple allegations of rape against Russian soldiers during the war.  

Thousands of Ukrainians kidnapped, taken to Russia 

Russia has been accused of kidnapping thousands of Ukrainians and forcing them to go to Russia. 

Mariupol’s City Council said thousands of its residents were forcibly taken to Russia in March. 

“Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russian territory,” the City Council said in a statement. “The occupiers illegally took people from the Levoberezhny district and from the shelter in the sports club building, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from the constant bombing.” 

Russia has also been going after local officials, allegedly kidnapping the mayor of the southern city of Melitopol last month.  

Blocking humanitarian aid to Ukrainians 

Russian forces have been blocking aid to civilians and not abiding by agreed-upon humanitarian corridors for civilians to escape the fighting.  

Kuleba said at the beginning of March that Russian forces were blocking humanitarian aid to Mariupol, where at least one child was known to have died from the lack of supplies.  

The former mayor of Irpin said Russian forces shot at humanitarian workers who were trying to administer aid and would not let civilians leave their homes to get supplies.  

Targeting and killing journalists 

More than a dozen members of the media have been reportedly killed in Ukraine, while a Ukrainian group says around 150 crimes have been committed against the media by Russian forces.  

Most of the journalists were killed by Russian forces shooting at them or shelling from Russia, including Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski. 

The Institute of Mass Media in Ukraine says Russian forces have killed, kidnapped and tortured journalists during the war.  

Other journalists have also been injured, with Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall giving an update on his condition Thursday. 

“To sum it up, I’ve lost half a leg on one side and a foot on the other. One hand is being put together, one eye is no longer working, and my hearing is pretty blown … but all in all I feel pretty damn lucky to be here — and it is the people who got me here who are amazing!” he said. 

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