Russia Foreign Minister Lavrov visits United Nations

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov holds a press conference during the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at U.N. headquarters on September 24, 2022 in New York City.

Stephanie Keith | Getty Images

UNITED NATIONS — When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov takes the helm of the United Nations Security Council on Monday it will be against a backdrop of mounting allegations of Russian war crimes reported across Ukraine.

Ukraine’s top diplomat has called Russia’s temporary presidency, which began on April 1, “the worst joke ever.” Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Moscow may misuse the role, by spreading disinformation about the Ukraine war, “and we will stand ready to call them out at every single moment that they attempt to do that.”

Lavrov, who flew from Moscow to New York to preside over the Security Council, will chair a meeting on the importance of defending the U.N. Charter, a founding document that binds the 193 member states and vows to preserve sovereignty, peace, justice and the prevention of war.

Warning: This article contains graphic material detailing reports of executions, rape and torture in Ukraine.

The last time Russia held the presidency of the U.N. body tasked with preserving international security was a little over a year ago, when Moscow ordered its troops to invade Ukraine in the largest air, sea and ground assault in Europe since World War II.

Since then, the war has claimed the lives of more than 8,500 civilians, led to nearly 14,000 injuries and displaced more than 8 million people, according to United Nations’ own estimates.

Mariya, 77, whose daughter and son-in-law died under the rubble of a building destroyed by Russian shelling, cries, amid Russia’s invasion on Ukraine in Borodyanka, in Kyiv region, Ukraine April 8, 2022.

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

Russia’s month-long presidency, which rotates between the Security Council’s 15 members, began with a briefing by Maria Lvova-Belova, the Kremlin’s commissioner for children’s rights.

Lvova-Belova told the Security Council on April 5 that the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia was part of a humanitarian campaign.

A month prior, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Lvova-Belova and Russian President Vladimir Putin over allegations related to “the unlawful deportation of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.”

Russian Children’s Representative Maria Lvova-Belova holds a press conference at the Foreign Ministry following accusations by Ukraine that the Russian leadership is deporting children in its war of aggression against the country.

Ulf Mauder | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

The warrants are the first the ICC has issued in response to the war in Ukraine, as officials within the country and around the world ramp up probes into the horrors of Russia’s nearly 14-month assault. It is unlikely they will be arrested. Piotr Hofmanski, president of the ICC, said international authorities will have to enforce the warrants as the court does not have a police force.

The Kremlin has previously said that it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Investigators are probing allegations of forced deportations, torture, sexual violence and deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure, outlined in reports backed by the United Nations and other organizations.

Read more: Russian forces have relocated at least 6,000 Ukrainian children to camps since start of war

Ukraine Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin told U.S. lawmakers last week that regional authorities have registered more than 80,000 Russian war crimes since Moscow’s conflict began nearly a year ago.

“Such evil cannot let be,” Kostin said during his graphic testimony last week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Kremlin has previously denied that its forces commit war crimes or deliberately target civilians. The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

UN war crimes report

War crime prosecutor of Kharkiv Oblast stands with forensic technician and policeman at the site of a mass burial in a forest during exhumation on September 16, 2022 in Izium, Ukraine.

Yevhenii Zavhorodnii | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A report commissioned by the United Nations last month found Russian forces in Ukraine committed an array of war crimes, including summary executions, torture, rape and other acts of sexual violence against Ukrainian civilians.

The report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine details violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in four regions occupied by Russian armed forces. The commission focused its investigations largely in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.

In preparing the report, the commission conducted 610 interviews and traveled to 56 cities over eight separate visits. In some cases, the commission found that Ukrainian forces committed war crimes against Russian troops, though those incidents were less frequent.

The commission also inspected sites of destruction, graves, places of detention and torture and examined documents, photographs, satellite imagery and videos.

In one of the most disturbing examples of sexual violence, the commission details an incident involving a pregnant woman:

Rapes were committed at gunpoint, with extreme brutality and with acts of torture, such as beatings and strangling. Perpetrators at times threatened to kill the victim or her family, if she resisted.

In some cases, more than one soldier raped the same victim, or rape of the same victim was committed several times. In one incident, the victim was pregnant and begged, in vain, the soldiers to spare her; she had a miscarriage a few days later.

The group also wrote that spouses and family members, including children, were sometimes forced to watch Russian troops rape their loved ones.

The commission said that the ages of victims of sexual assault ranged from 4 years of age to over 80 years old.

The report also documents Russian forces unlawfully confining Ukrainian civilians in overcrowded makeshift facilities before carrying out interrogation sessions that involved methods of torture:

Cells were overcrowded, with people forced to sleep on the floor or in turns. At times, men, women, and children were held together. Lack of light and ventilation, difficulties to breathe, absence of heating in freezing temperatures were reported. Sanitary conditions were inadequate, with, at times, buckets or a bottle as a toilet and limited or no possibility to wash.

In one case, 10 older people died as a consequence of the inhuman conditions in a school basement, while the other detainees, including children, had to share the same space with the bodies of the deceased.

The commission wrote that some women restricted their water and food intake out of shame to use the toilet in front of other prisoners.

The group added that in several cases, the confinement was prolonged, with the longest instance lasting over nine months.

In the majority of instances, relatives of those taken for detention were not informed and reasons for confinement were not properly communicated by Russian troops.

Detainees were called ‘Nazis’ and beaten

Kherson, UkraineNov. 16, 2022A Ukrainian police officer stands inside a detention center used by the Russian forces for interrogations, detentions, and torture according to the Ukrainian authorities on Nov. 16, 2022.

Carolyn Cole | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

According to some former detainees, Russian authorities referred to them as “Nazis,” “fascists,” and “terrorists” and forced them to undergo “denazification sessions” consisting of severe beatings.

The individuals were handcuffed, tied, blindfolded and sustained prolonged beatings with rifle butts or batons. Russian forces also administered electric shocks with tasers and carried out mock executions, according to the commission.

In areas under prolonged Russian control, and in more permanent detention facilities, additional methods of torture were used. One such method was electrocution with a military phone called ‘Tapik’ connected to an electricity cable with clips applied on feet, fingers, or men’s genitals. The perpetrators referred to this as “call to Lenin” or “call to Putin”.

Other methods included hanging detainees to the ceiling with hands tied, called “parrot position”, strangling with cables, suffocating with plastic bags or gas masks, rape, and other sexual violence. Victims witnessed the death of co-detainees following severe torture.

One former detainee told the commission that Russian troops administered beatings as a “punishment for speaking Ukrainian” and for “not remembering the lyrics of the anthem of the Russian Federation.”

Another detainee said she passed out a few times from beatings, but Russian troops woke her up to continue.

The commission concluded in its report that through its investigations in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, it found that Russian armed forces carried out an “array of war crimes, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

While in New York, Lavrov is expected to reiterate Moscow’s claims that its troops are carrying out a “special military operation” and that Kyiv is the real aggressor.

Lavrov will chair several meetings and is slated to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether the U.S. and some of its allies, like the United Kingdom, will attend the sessions Lavrov will chair.

Source link