War is hell, and awful things happen in wars on both sides. Everyone knows that.
Though, there are still laws for war. They are aimed at preventing some of the worst abuses, such as the murder of prisoners of war (POWs), torture, intentional killing of civilians, and use of banned chemical and biological weapons.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was preceded by violence against pro-Russian areas in the east, including civilians. This is part of what Russia used to justify its February 24 invasion, claiming the attacks on civilians were intentional.
Yet, since its invasion, Russia has committed a number of intentional and documented war crimes. Most recently, it promised civilians fleeing Mariupol a chance to get away. Then, it bombed them.
Massacre in Mariupol
The Russian military is surrounding Mariupol in Ukraine; it’s going to be a grisly fight to the death. Civilians who are trapped there wanted a chance to get away and were told Russia would hold fire.
While civilians started to scramble to leave, Russia then opened up with fresh attacks only an hour later, maiming and killing civilians and causing the rest to run for cover wherever possible out of the open.
Since the February 24 invasion, Putin’s troops have been responsible for attacks that have killed thousands of civilians, including children and young teens. They have also struck kindergartens and schools.
There were around 200,000 civilians who wanted to get away during this temporary ceasefire time window. Russia opening up with artillery and shelling ended that hope for many of them.
Mariupol is far from the only city where this is reported to have happened; it’s also taken place in numerous other places, such as the town of Ivankov.
Dad, please don't die!': A harrowing video has emerged from Ukraine that captures a deadly Russian attack on a father and son attempting to evacuate from the town of Ivankiv in the Kyiv region. pic.twitter.com/6WB2ZfCpVS
— Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (@RFERL) March 3, 2022
Accusations of Rape
In addition to hitting civilians, Russian soldiers have reportedly been violently raping many Ukrainian women as they take over areas of the country. This is also a war crime; it can be prosecuted in an international court after the conflict.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is accusing Russia of many of these crimes. He also renewed his push for NATO to establish a no-fly zone so civilians can get away and soldiers can fight more effectively.
An estimated 1.2 million Ukrainians have already fled the country as refugees, many to Poland.
Cities like Mariupol, Kharkiv, Odessa, and Kiev are in the sights of Russia. Putin is determined to bring them to their knees and install a pro-Russian regime in Ukraine.
Experts fear Russia may engage in similar combat as it did in Syria. Here, Putin’s troops destroyed cities like Aleppo with indiscriminate carpet bombing, killing massive amounts of civilians.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine accused Russia of war crimes on Tuesday for deliberately targeting civilians and attacking Kharkiv's main square: "It is state terrorism by the Russian Federation. After this, Russia is a terrorist state." https://t.co/s93h0F4aWI pic.twitter.com/kYccvr4LlN
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 1, 2022
Zelensky Calls Out NATO
Zelensky’s call for a no-fly zone could lead directly to combat with Russia and World War Three, which is why NATO is not doing it. Nonetheless, Zelensky called out the West and NATO, saying all civilian deaths from now on are on NATO’s hands.
He also said Russia is starving civilians in places like Mariupol by cutting off their food supply. Ukraine fears Russia may use chemical weapons or destroy nuclear plants as they almost did recently at the town of Enerhodar.
Russia says the footage of its attacks on civilian areas are completely “fake” and are just tools of western propaganda.
It has not responded to other footage, such as that showing Russian forces firing on those who identify themselves as journalists.
Russia is known for killing journalists over the decades but now attempt to do it on camera. Sky News team ambushed by Russian operatives in Ukraine while covering Russia’s war crimes pic.twitter.com/vZWrnaOYAf
— Olga Lautman 🇺🇦 (@OlgaNYC1211) March 5, 2022