Russian forces are attempting to annex the Kherson Oblast in southern Ukraine via appalling abuses of human rights, said Ambassador Michael Carpenter, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Kherson, “has become part of what I’ve called the Kremlin’s laboratory of horrors. . . .We’re seeing the Kremlin executing on their playbook of trying to absorb Ukraine into Russia.”
There are chilling reports that some 600 people are being detained in the Kherson region in specially equipped basements that serve as “torture chambers.” Those detained include local officials, journalists, civil society activists, and those whom the Russian forces have identified as having participated in pro-Ukraine rallies in Kherson and its region.
In addition, residents of Kherson are reportedly subjected to humiliating identity checks and often violent questioning. Russia’s forces are rounding up the local civilian population, detaining them in detention facilities or “filtration points” and interrogating them for any supposed links to the Ukrainian government or to independent media outlets. This process reportedly can involve several days of detention and interrogation before Russia’s forces determine who to kill, torture, detain indefinitely, or forcibly relocate to Russia.
Russia is installing its own puppets and proxies in the parts of the Kherson region under its control much as it did in 2014 and 2015 in Donetsk and Luhansk, reported Ambassador Carpenter.
Meanwhile, the Russian Government is sabotaging or cutting off internet access in the Russia-controlled territories to deny people the ability to acquire reliable information, to conduct financial transactions, or to communicate.
In the schools, principals are being forced to shift to a Russian Federation curriculum, though many are refusing to go along at great cost to their own safety.
Economically, Russia is trying to set the stage for future annexation as well. Locals are forced to use the Russian ruble and to register their commercial properties with the new puppet administrations.
Russia is violating the UN Charter and contravening all ten principles of the Helsinki Final Act, declared Ambassador Carpenter. The United States believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his forces must be held accountable for the horrific atrocities being carried out in Kherson and elsewhere in Ukraine.