As the war between Russia and Ukraine blows past its one-year mark, the human costs of the fighting continue to pile up.
Beyond the loss of soldiers, the abuse of civilians caught in the middle of the war have piled up.
The United Nations (UN) said last month that at least 8,000 non-combatants had been killed in the war — a figure that it says is most likely significantly higher.
A new UN report released this week said both Russia and Ukraine had committed war crimes.
Here is what you need to know about the new UN report.
Russia has widely used indiscriminate attacks and bombings
The independent international committee that submitted the report to the UN on the humanitarian crises in Ukraine found that the Russian military has consistently committed indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilian populations.
According to international humanitarian law, indiscriminate attacks are those that are not directed at a specific military objective or use methods that cannot be used to target specific military sites.
The committee investigated what it says is just a fraction of the total number of attacks in the war, but concluded that Russia has struck military and civilian targets without distinction.
“The circumstances of the attacks launched or likely launched by Russian armed forces that the Commission investigated has led it to determine that a majority of them were indiscriminate,” the report said. “In several attacks, the Commission found that Russian armed forces failed to take feasible precautions to verify whether civilians were present.”
The attacks include an April 2022 assault on a train station in Kramatorsk, in the eastern part of Ukraine, that killed 59 people and a June 2022 attack on a shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk, that killed 21 people.
It is “likely” Ukraine has violated international humanitarian law
The report found that the Ukrainian military has likely used cluster munitions and antipersonnel landmines in Russian-controlled areas, leading to “grave civilian injuries” and deaths.
International law bans all use of anti-personnel landmines.
The report said that it identified three instances where the military likely used cluster munitions in the city of Izium when it was under Russian control. The three explosions last summer, the report said, killed at least five people and injured others.
“After considering the context of these incidents, notably that attacks struck an area during a period when it was controlled by Russian armed forces, the weapons systems used, the fact that the attacks were repeated, and have impacted civilians or civilian objects, the Commission found it likely that Ukrainian armed forces have committed indiscriminate attacks, in violation of international humanitarian law,” the commission said.
Russia carried out summary executions of Ukrainian civilians
The commission said it had confirmed the executions of at least 65 men, two women and one 14-year-old boy in areas that the Russian military controlled.
The report said that in over half of the executions it investigated, witnesses said they last saw the executed individuals in the custody of Russian authorities. Some even reported to have seen the executions carried out by the troops themselves. Others were found near military bases, leading the commission to conclude that Russia was likely responsible.
The report said that detention, interrogation and torture frequently preceded the executions, which were most often carried out by gunshots to the head at close range.
“After considering the context of these incidents, notably that attacks struck an area during a period when it was controlled by Russian armed forces, the weapons systems used, the fact that the attacks were repeated, and have impacted civilians or civilian objects, the Commission found it likely that Ukrainian armed forces have committed indiscriminate attacks, in violation of international humanitarian law,” the report said.
The highest number of executions took place in the Kyiv region.
The Russian military has committed widespread torture against soldiers and civilians
The commission found that the Russian military has used consistent methods of torture against both combatants and civilians alike, primarily targeting military members, their families and civilians with pro-Ukrainian views.
The methods included beatings with rifles, electric shocks with tasers, rape, prolonged exposure to the cold and the strapping of an electricity cable to the feet, fingers or genitalia that is connected to a military phone, which was dubbed the “call to Putin.” “
“Based on the cases it has documented, the Commission has concluded that Russian authorities have committed torture and cruel or inhuman treatment, which is a war crime and a violation of the prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the report said.
The report also said the targeting of specific groups of people and the constant use of the same methods may constitute crimes against humanity.
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