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(Geneva) Far from the usual cautious wording of the UN, investigators from the organization accused Moscow on Friday of having committed a “considerable number” of war crimes in four Ukrainian regions in the first weeks following the invasion Russian.

On the other hand, they judged that it was too early to speak of crimes against humanity, contrary to what NGOs and Kyiv claim.

This UN commission of inquiry presented to the Human Rights Council (HRC) the first conclusions of its investigation into human rights violations committed in late February and March by Russian forces in the regions of Kyiv, Cherniguiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, located in the north and north-east of Ukraine.

The investigators focused specifically on these four regions following a request to do so made in May by the Council. Another resolution, passed in March by the Council, asks them to investigate across the country, and they are to issue a comprehensive report on this in March 2023.

In the meantime, “based on the evidence collected by the Commission, it has concluded that war crimes have been committed” in these four regions, the chairman of the commission, Erik Mose, told the Council, listing the Russian bombings of civilian areas, numerous executions, torture and ill-treatment as well as sexual violence.

He told the media that the investigations had “shown a considerable number of war crimes” committed by the Russians, while only two cases of mistreatment of Russian soldiers by Ukrainian forces had been found so far during the period concerned.

“There is a considerable difference between war crimes committed on a very large scale on one side and on the other, two cases of ill-treatment,” added another investigator Pablo de Greiff, interviewed by AFP.

The UN raised suspicions of war crimes, but “we are the first UN fact-finding mission to conclude that we have found war crimes” in these four regions, Mose noted.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, had opened an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine just days after the Russian invasion.

And the French ambassador Jérôme Bonnafont denounced on Friday before the Council the Russian invasion which is accompanied in particular by “murders, tortures, forced deportations, all of this being constitutive of as many war crimes and, perhaps – the justice will pronounce — of crimes against humanity”.

Large number of executions

But “so far we have not found any crimes against humanity,” Mose said. “We will continue our investigations. It is a general strategy of this commission to say what we are convinced of, and at this stage, this is where we are”.

Meanwhile, the war crimes investigators’ stark accusations were hailed by many diplomats in the Council, while Moscow left its chair empty.

During the investigations in these four regions, the commission visited 27 cities and towns and interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses.

“We were struck by the large number of executions in the regions we visited. The Commission is currently investigating these deaths in 16 cities and locations. We have received credible allegations regarding many other cases of executions,” Mose told the council.

The bodies found have the common characteristics of having visible signs of executions, such as hands tied behind their backs, gunshot wounds to the head or slit throats.

The commission also denounced Russia’s use of “wide-area explosive weapons” in civilian areas, as well as torture in detention, including of children. Some victims also said they were detained for weeks in Russia, while others disappeared there.

“Interlocutors described beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity, as well as other types of violations in these places of detention,” Mose said.

Cases of sexual violence, including against children, have also been reported to UN investigators.

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According to the UN | “War crimes have been committed” in Ukraine – TOPALLMEDIA

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