Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians performing daily tasks killed, UN says


APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows burning buildings in a residential area in northeast Chernihiv, Ukraine on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (Maxar Technologies via AP) AP

Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians performing daily tasks killed, UN says

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A new report from the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights documents the killing of 441 civilians in three Northern regions of Ukraine that were under Russian control during the early part of the war.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said the report details the murder of civilians for “cutting firewood and buying groceries” in Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy, which to varying degrees had previously been occupied by Russian forces following the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. There are another 105 alleged killings in these regions that are still under investigation.


“There are strong indications that the summary executions documented in the report constitute the war crime of willful killing,” he said.

The 441 civilians who suffered “violent deaths” consist of 341 men, 72 women, and 28 children, and they note these numbers are likely higher.

“There are strong indications that the summary executions documented in this report may constitute the war crime of willful killing,” Head of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine Matilda Bogner said.

This report provides additional evidence to further demonstrate a pattern of Russian aggression, specifically at the expense of civilians, that turns up any time Russian forces retreat from an area they had been occupying.

There is “mounting evidence” that Russian forces appear to have committed “systemic war crimes” in every region they deployed to in Ukraine, Beth Van Schaack, U.S. ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, told reporters in late November.

The U.S. has seen “deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against the civilian population and elements of the civilian infrastructure,” she said, adding that they’ve also received intelligence on “custodial abuses of civilians and [prisoners of war] and efforts to cover up these crimes.”

Van Schaack also explained that what they’re seeing indicates “that these atrocities are not the acts of rogue units or individuals. Rather, they are part of a deeply disturbing pattern of reports of abuse across all areas where we’re seeing Russia’s forces engage.”


Russian forces have been using Iranian drones to destroy Ukraine’s energy grid as winter begins, which has already left millions of residents without electricity, heat, and running water at times until operators are able to restore power. The unnecessary hardship Russian forces are creating for Ukrainian civilians could be an attempt to wear them down, but Ukrainian officials have reiterated that they will persevere through the war and come out ahead with the help of some allies.

U.S. officials have said Russia’s targeting of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure could amount to war crimes as well.

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