This past year, since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has highlighted the gross and systematic violation of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation as part of its brutal war against Ukraine. “Make no mistake, the atrocities are on one side,” said former U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Keith Harper, moderator of a high-level UN side event on Gross Human Rights Violations Due to Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine.
“The United States believes Russian forces have committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine,” said U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “The evidence is overwhelming.”
“The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine … and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, have documented a wide range of atrocities and other abuses committed by Russian forces,” she said. “Summary executions. Arbitrary detentions. Torture, rape, and other forms of gender-based violence and sexual violence. And we know women, children, older persons, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups are most vulnerable to these attacks.”
“Credible reports indicate Russian officials have orchestrated the transfer, relocation, re-education, adoption, or fostering of thousands of children. Some of these children have been orphaned during this war. And some were already living in institutions for serious health needs,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
“In many cases, parents sent children to what they thought were ‘summer camps’ for their child’s safety but were then denied contact and reunification with their children. In other cases, parents refused to send their children to Russia’s ‘camps,’ and Russia’s occupation authorities enrolled them anyway,” she said. “And let’s be clear: this is not some offshoot operation. We have evidence that President Putin and the Kremlin are actively engaged in this effort to deny and suppress Ukraine’s identity, their history, and their culture.”
“And mark my words,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “There will be accountability for Russia’s atrocities. But right now, what the Ukrainian people need most desperately is peace. As President Biden said during his visit to Kyiv this week, ‘President Putin chose this war. Every day the war continues is his choice.’”
“Our message to President Putin is this: End this war. End your campaign of brutality. End the suffering your forces have wrought on Ukraine and on the world. But until that day comes, we must all stand with Ukraine,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “And we must all stand for accountability in the face of unconscionable human rights violations.”