Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine, UN-backed inquiry finds

By Steve Janoski 

Erik Møse led the investigation. AFP via Getty Images

Russia’s “systemic and widespread” practice of torture, rape and killing of civilians during its Ukraine invasion is tantamount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, according to a UN-backed report.

The report, released Thursday, cited a raft of alleged Russian abuses, including accusations that children were forced to watch loved ones being raped, or detained near dead bodies.

The report also pointed to Russia’s ceaseless assaults on Ukraine’s power grid — robbing wide swaths of the population heat and electricity in winter — as another potential crime against humanity.

Though many of the abuses were public knowledge, the findings could bolster efforts to prosecute those who committed the atrocities either in International Criminal Court or individual countries’ judiciaries.

More than 8,000 civilians have died since the Russian invasion began in February 2022, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office.

Erik Møse, the former Norwegian Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights judge who led the probe, said investigators have a list of those they want to hold accountable.

Russia has committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity during the Ukraine invasion, a UN-backed inquiry said Thursday.

The report cited Russia’s willingness to target Ukrainian infrastructure.

“The ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine has had devastating effects at various levels,” Møse said during a press briefing. “Human losses and the general disregard for the life of civilians… are shocking.”

But he acknowledged investigations could be difficult since Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

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