Ukraine Looking Into War Crimes – Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova told the U.S. Helsinki Commission on Thursday that at least 9,800 war crimes committed by Russian soldiers have been logged since the beginning of the invasion in February.
Reports vary on the exact number of cases logged by Ukraine, but not by large margins.
“Today, to date, we have opened over 9,600 investigations. Tomorrow, it will be up again, up and up, into instances of violations of law and customs of law. This number for sure will get higher,” the Ukrainian official said.
Speaking to the United States Helsinki Commission, a government agency that monitors military issues, human rights violations, and economic cooperation among 57 countries in Europe, North America, and Eurasia, Venediktova accused Russian soldiers of many kinds of war crimes. The Ukrainian official described how Russian soldiers have not just targeted residential buildings and hospitals, but even deported Ukrainian children to Russia where they will “erase their identity.”
“The unblocking of Mariupol and the de-occupation of territories will open for us even more terrible cases to investigate,” Venediktova warned.
What Constitutes a War Crime?
According to the United Nations, a war crime is defined as a major breach of international law during an armed conflict that targets civilians or “enemy combatants.”
For an attack to constitute a war crime, it must cause unnecessary suffering to the enemy, beyond what is required to achieve a militaristic goal. In this case, Russian troops are accused of targeting residential buildings in Ukrainian towns and cities, using missiles to destroy hospitals, and in some cases even raping Ukrainian civilians.
Russia also stands accused of “kidnapping” Ukrainian children, politicians, and other civilians and deporting them to Russia. Over 2,000 Ukrainian children have been abducted since the beginning of the war, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that nobody knows where they are.
EU Will Help International Criminal Court Investigate Ukraine War Crimes
An investigation by the International Criminal Court at the Hague is also ongoing and has gained the support of the European Union.
The European Union’s Josep Borrell promised that the political bloc would provide financial support and other assistance to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court to help determine what war crimes have been committed in Ukraine so far.
Borrell met with the chief prosecutor at the court on Monday and discussed how to hold the Kremlin accountable for “gross violations of international law.”
Following the meeting, Borrell said that Russia is “bombing Ukrainian cities and provoking hunger in the world,” referencing Ukraine’s enormous agricultural center and wheat exports.
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.