Russia Claims Ukraine Shelled Its Own Residential Buildings, Denies War Crimes, threatens tactical nuclear weapons use: The true number of civilian deaths in Ukraine is unknown, but the best estimates from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is that some 977 civilians have been killed in Ukraine so far, and an additional 1,594 injured.
Video footage and photographs from Ukraine’s major cities Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Chernihiv, and Mariupol show destruction on residential streets, crumbling residential buildings, and hospitals under siege – but one Russian diplomat told British journalists that Russian soldiers are now committing the attacks.
Instead, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy suggested that Ukrainian troops may be committing the atrocities themselves.
What Polyanskiy Said
Speaking to the United Kingdom’s Sky News, Polyanskiy warned that Russia may consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons if Russia faces an “existential threat.”
“If Russia is provoked by NATO, if Russia is attacked by NATO, why not, we are a nuclear power,” Polanskiy said, adding that nations should not “try to interfere.”
The Russian diplomat also implied that Ukrainian troops may be attacking residential buildings and dismissed accusations from the United States and other NATO countries that Russia is committing war crimes.
“I don’t think we’re committing war crimes in Ukraine,” he said.
“Of course, it’s not up to me to assess. I’m not there. You’re not there. You’re looking at the videos, you’re looking at the many videos which are considered to be fake news. You believe one thing, I believe another thing.”
When showed photographs of images taken by photographers from The Associated Press, which showed large numbers of apartment buildings in Mariupol completely destroyed and the bodies of deceased Ukrainian children being buried in trenches in the street, Polyanskiy doubled down.
“They were not targeted,” he said of the residential buildings. “We said from the very beginning, that our military is not a threat for the civilian population of Ukraine.”
Polyanskiy’s comments, if true, would mean that Ukrainian soldiers caused the damage in Mariupol – as well as in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and beyond.
What We Know About Civilian Deaths
While more than 3.6 million Ukrainians have already fled the country since the Russian invasion began, millions remain across the country and hundreds of thousands are stranded in major population centers. Humanitarian corridors agreed on by Ukraine and Russia have been repeatedly sabotaged by the Russian military, with huge numbers of Ukrainians left with no safe route to leave their cities.
The United Nations OHCHR reports that most civilian casualties in Ukraine have been caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area. It means that while many are killed in direct blasts, others die as a result of injuries caused by shrapnel.
The UN office also predicts that the true number of civilian casualties in the country is “considerably higher”
“OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration,” the OHCHR website reads.
“This concerns, for example, Mariupol and Volnovakha (Donetsk region), Izium (Kharkiv region), Sievierodonetsk and Rubizhne (Luhansk region), and Trostianets (Sumy region), where there are allegations of numerous civilian casualties.”
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.
March 24, 2022 at 1:05 pm
Author, read Russia’s military doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons. You just lost your time writing this stupid, baseless article.
March 25, 2022 at 3:43 pm
Re “Polyanskiy’s comments, if true, would mean that Ukrainian soldiers caused the damage in Mariupol – as well as in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and beyond.”
Logical leap: They could also mean that busloads of rogue Belgian nuns were destroying Ukrainian cities. But the simplest reading is that the writer’s “if true” is a deranged fruit of wilfully credulous or cynical moral equivalence.
March 25, 2022 at 5:04 pm
Alex, Is there a Russian doctrine on not ending up at war with the whole planet? Putin knows he can’t pull forces from the Chinese border. Why would the world care about military doctrine when clearly the country is ruled by a mad man? Why trust a leader with a mentor, Dugin, that worships the SS scientific attempts to prove Aryanism and then transposed the same NAZI ideas to the Slavic peoples?
Putin has doomed Russia.
March 25, 2022 at 5:16 pm
Putin can’t use nuclear weapons but he and his fanatics may not know that. Regardless of the wind direction Russia or its few remaining allies are downwind. Even if NATO and the rest of the world held its fire, which is a possibility, fallout would kill Russians. Given that Russians are suffering frost bite with inadequate winter boots?!? What makes anyone think their NBC gear would work? Ukraine is partly evacuated and heavily bunkered down. The odds are that they have better maintained NBC gear. They are also avoiding any easily targetable concentrations. And all this assumes that the nuclear weapon has been properly maintained and does not detonate in the launcher.
March 26, 2022 at 12:51 pm
In the larger sense, today’s Russia is little more than the old Soviet without the complete union. Behavior is ingrained in the ruling class and somewhat grudgingly accepted by a largely compliant populace. Ukraine will not be the last of their adventures unless the civilized world, not just Europe, decides such behavior will not be tolerated. One is tempted to say that Europe should be allowed to freeze in the dark as a penalty for their previous fecklessness but practical considerations require overlooking past mistakes.
March 26, 2022 at 3:28 pm
Bruce, do you also want to experience what Russia can and cannot do? You are all so formidable here, mother’s warriors, but you are not smart enough to even read Russia’s nuclear doctrine, but you are “enough” to write your teenage fantasies. Do you want to fight? Join the Ukrainian legion. Maybe you will even see a Russian soldier for the last time. Although, usually legionnaires die from Russian hypersonic missiles.