‘Not isolated incidents’: Amnesty accuses Russia of war crimes

As war continues to rage in Ukraine, global rights group documents ‘numerous unlawful’ civilian killings near Kyiv.

A resident of Bucha touches a framed photo on the grave of her husband.
Ukrainian authorities say more than 400 civilians were killed in Bucha, a suburb northwest of Kyiv [File: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters]

Amnesty International says it has documented war crimes in Ukraine, including the “wilful killings of civilians” by Russian forces when they occupied an area northeast of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, in February and March.

Civilians have also suffered abuse such as “reckless shootings and torture” at the hands of Russian forces in the early stages of Russia’s invasion, the rights group said in a report published on Friday.

“These are not isolated incidents. These are very much part of a pattern wherever Russian forces were in control of a town or a village,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s senior crisis response adviser, told a news conference in Kyiv.

INTERACTIVE - Russia-Ukraine control - DAY 71 map

Russia, which calls the invasion it launched on February 24 a “special operation”, denies its forces committed war crimes.

Kyiv and its Western backers say Russia’s claim that fascism is rampant in Ukraine is a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.

Ukrainian authorities say they are investigating more than 9,000 potential war crimes by Russian troops. The International Criminal Court is also looking into alleged war crimes.

Amnesty is the latest human rights group to document alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces when they occupied an area northwest of Kyiv, including the town of Bucha, where Ukrainian authorities say more than 400 civilians were killed.

Moscow withdrew its troops from the area in early April.

‘Unlawful killings’

The report concluded that Russian troops had committed a “host of apparent war crimes” in Bucha, including “numerous unlawful killings”, most of them near the intersection of Yablunska and Vodoprovidna streets.

A Reuters news agency investigation published on Thursday documented clues, including testimony and evidence focused on Yablunska Street, to the identities of individual Russian soldiers and military units present in Bucha.

The units included the 76th Guards Air Assault Division, which the Amnesty report also found was present in the town.

Mini map showing Bucha's location within Ukraine

Amnesty said it had documented 22 cases of unlawful killings by Russian forces – “most of which were apparent extrajudicial executions” – in Bucha and nearby areas.

Russian air raids that hit eight residential buildings on March 1 and 2 in the town of Borodyanka, killing at least 40 civilians, were “disproportionate and indiscriminate, and apparent war crimes”, the group said.

“Russian forces cannot credibly claim to have been unaware that civilians were living in the targeted buildings,” it said.

Russia has regularly denounced reports of atrocities in Bucha as “fakes”, describing the footage of bodies in the area as “staged”.

Source: Reuters