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HomenewsUN rights chief: ‘Extensive failure’ by Russia to protect Ukraine civilians

UN rights chief: ‘Extensive failure’ by Russia to protect Ukraine civilians

The United Nations human rights chief has said there had been an “extensive failure” by Russia to take adequate measures to protect civilians in Ukraine and that there were indications that Russian forces had committed war crimes.

Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said on Tuesday that his office’s monitoring indicated “gross violations of international human rights law, serious violations of international humanitarian law, and war crimes, primarily by the forces of the Russian Federation”.

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These included 142 cases of summary execution of civilians since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, as well as enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including through sexual violence.

Russia has denied committing atrocities or targeting civilians in Ukraine.

“The situation in Ukraine seems to have been added to a litany of continuous suffering, and the world’s attention seems jaded by the multiple crises that we face,” Turk told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Russia has not taken “adequate measures to protect civilians” nor civilian infrastructure “against the effects of their attacks”, he said. The armed forces of both countries, particularly Russia, needed to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law, he added.

“They must cease the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas, and scrupulously map the location of mines,” he said.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu said that since the start of what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Russian forces had laid 7,000sq km (2,700sq miles) of minefields along the 2,000km (1,250-mile) front line.

During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and senior defence officials, Shoigu also said that Russia had increased tank production by 5.6 times.

Wavering West

Ukraine’s military has been feeling even more pressure on the front amid wavering support from the United States and some European countries.

After weeks of effort to rally military and political backing with visits on both sides of the Atlantic, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy failed to convince the US Congress to approve $60bn in support while in Brussels, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban blocked some 50 billion euros ($55bn) in aid earmarked for Kyiv.

Yet, the European Union invited Ukraine to open membership talks last week despite objections from Orban, who stood isolated in arguing that European Union financial resources should be saved for existing members.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron voiced commitment to Ukraine on Tuesday, saying, “Britain and France have been staunch supporters of Ukraine and we will continue to be for as long as it takes.

“I have no doubt that we can make sure [President Vladimir Putin] loses and it is essential he does lose,” Cameron said after talks in Paris with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna.

Cameron said that Western countries must work together to muster the “economic strength and that commitment pay” as the allies “outmatch the Russian economy by 25 to one or more”.

Neither Cameron nor Colonna announced new aid for Ukraine in their comments to reporters.

“Hand in hand since the beginning, our two countries are working together to ensure that the Russian aggression is not rewarded, is a failure,” Colonna said.

Zelenskyy’s visit with leaders of Nordic countries last week did yield some positive results with Norway promising additional aid worth $275m. And Denmark said it would seek parliamentary approval for $1.1bn in new funds.

Zelenskyy is set to hold an end-of-year news conference later on Tuesday.

Source: News Agencies

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