Ukraine’s chief prosecutor said this week that the country has logged roughly 15,000 suspected war crimes since the Russian invasion began on February 24, adding that p to 300 more cases are being reported every day.
So far, 600 suspects have been identified by the country’s investigators, and 80 prosecutions are ongoing.
Iryna Venediktova told journalists in The Hague that suspects don’t just include soldiers on the ground, but also “top military, politicians and propaganda agents of Russia.”
Venediktova said that thousands of the suspected war crimes were committed in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, where Russian soldiers have focused their efforts after failing to take control of Kyiv in March. She also added that while investigations are ongoing, the fact that the fighting continues in the east makes it difficult to accurately say just how many crimes have been committed.
“Investigations are very difficult when fighting is going on at the same time,” she said.
The news comes as three more European countries join the international investigation team currently probing war crimes allegedly committed in Ukraine. The International Criminal Court prosecutor also announced plans this week to open an office in Kyiv, as Latvia, Slovakia, and Estonia sign an agreement to coordinate with other countries investigating atrocities committed by the Russians.
ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan praised the joint efforts of the countries already involved with the investigation and said that the international community’s commitment to the rule of law is making the investigation a success.
“I think it shows that there is a common front of the legality that is absolutely essential, not just for Ukraine, but for the continuation of peace and security all over the world,” he said.
Russian Soldiers Sentenced for War Crimes
Ukrainian courts are already processing cases relating to war crimes committed by Russian soldiers, and this week, two captured soldiers were sentenced to over 11 years in prison for shelling residential buildings in towns in eastern Ukraine this year.
The two soldiers, Alexander Ivanov and Alexander Bobikin, were in Ukrainian custody as the trials progressed. They stood in Kotelevska’s district court as they pleaded guilty to committing war crimes last week, while their attorneys requested that their sentences be lowered to eight years by taking into account their expression of remorse. The soldiers insisted that they were following orders and did not want to commit the crimes.
“The guilt of Bobikin and Ivanov has been proven in full,” Judge Evhen Bolybok said during sentencing.
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.