Russia is committing “widespread torture and ill-treatment” of civilians and prisoners of war (POWs) in Ukraine, according to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.
The UN said on Wednesday that Moscow was responsible for nearly 10,000 civilian deaths and had committed “rampant human rights violations” since invading Ukraine almost 20 months ago. A report published by the UN human rights monitor on the same day summarizes “severe and widespread harm to civilians” and alleged atrocities from February 1 to July 31, 2023.
“The report’s findings show the war’s deadly toll on Ukraine’s civilians with almost six people dying and 20 suffering injuries on average every single day,” Danielle Bell, head of the UN’s human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, said in a statement. “In just six months covered by this report more than one thousand civilians died and nearly four thousand were injured.”
“The war has wreaked havoc in the lives of millions of Ukrainians, including children who will have to live with horrific legacy of human loss, physical destruction, environmental damage, particularly contamination from explosive remnants of war, for many years to come,” added Bell.
The UN described Russia’s alleged imposition of “appalling conditions of detention” for Ukrainian prisoners, while noting “severe beatings, electrocution, mock executions, sexual violence and degrading treatment.”
Although Russia has purportedly refused to allow direct observation of the treatment of its prisoners, the UN said that Ukraine “continues to grant human rights monitors unfettered access to interned POWs.”
Newsweek reached out for comment to the Russian Ministry of Defense via email on Wednesday night.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense noted that the UN report details “another six cases of extrajudicial executions of Ukrainian prisoners of war” by Russian forces.
The deaths purportedly included two Ukrainian prisoners who were killed while performing forced labor in the Donetsk region and two Ukrainian solders who were shot dead after being captured in the Chernihiv region.
The UN said there were “reasonable grounds” to declare that two online videos purporting to show the brutal deaths of two additional Ukrainian soldiers were authentic. One of the videos shows a Ukrainian soldier being beheaded and the other shows one being killed by gunfire after shouting, “Glory to Ukraine!“
The alleged abduction of Ukrainian children by Russian authorities was also noted. The UN shared “concern about the fate of Ukrainian children” who were “transferred from their regular places of residence to other locations within the areas occupied by Russia or deported to Russia.”
Russia was not alone in being accused of committing war crimes. The human rights monitor said that it had “documented the summary execution or torture to death of 25 Russian POWs and 21 Ukrainian POWs (all men).”