Russia may have committed war crime by killing civilians in its pounding Ukrainian cities. This was the conclusion of the top United Nations human right official, who made her strongest statements yet about the conflict on Wednesday.
Michelle Bachelet, a U.N. Human Rights Council member in Geneva, urged Russia not to continue its five-week-old invasion.
She stated that “homes and administrative buildings, schools, hospitals, schools, water stations, and electricity systems were not spared.” International humanitarian law prohibits discriminatory attacks and could amount to war crimes.
Bachelet stated that her office received credible allegations that Russian forces used cluster munitions at least 24 times in populated areas. Her office was also investigating the alleged use by Ukraine of cluster munitions.
Since launching on February 24, what Russia calls a “special operations” to disarm its neighbor and “denazify”, Russia denies using such weapons against civilians.
Bachelet stated that her office, which has nearly 60 U.N. monitors deployed in Ukraine, had confirmed 77 instances in which medical facilities were damaged. This included 50 hospitals.
Michele Taylor, U.S. ambassador for human rights, stated that she was concerned by reports about abductions by Russia’s forces. She also mentioned at least three mayors as well as forced deportations of civilians.
Simon Manley, British ambassador to Ukraine, said that “it is evident that President Putin is hellbent on reducing Ukraine’s towns and cities into dust.”
Bachelet expressed concern about videos that circulated on social media showing interrogations by Russian and Ukrainian forces of prisoners of war.
Yaroslav Eremin was the first secretary of Russia’s U.N. Mission in Geneva. He alleged that Ukrainian forces used prisoners as human shields in Mariupol, tortured prisoners and killed 21 civilians in Donetsk with cluster munitions.
He said that unarmed Russians were seen being shot near Kharhiv. They’ve been wearing plastic bags and some are unconscious.
“All these atrocities against civilians have been carried out using weaponry supplied to the West.”