Amnesty documents Russian war crimes near Kyiv

Amnesty International Friday published a report documenting war crimes committed by Russian forces in the northwest portion of Kyiv Oblast.

In April Amnesty International investigators spent 12 days in Bucha, Borodyanka, Novyi Korohod, Andrivka, Zdvyzhivka, Vorzel, Makariv and Dmytrivka investigating war crimes. The investigators interviewed around 45 people who witnessed or had first-hand knowledge of killings by Russian soldiers and airstrikes that hit large apartment buildings. The researchers also collected and analyzed digital evidence which included satellite imagery, videos and photos of the areas.

Amnesty International’s report covers unlawful killings in and around Bucha as well as attacks on residential buildings in Borodyanka. The report stated that weapons used against civilians included rare sub-sonic bullets which are only provided to a few elite special units, including Russian special forces (Spetsnaz) and airborne forces (VDV) that were reportedly operating in Bucha at the time of the killings. It was also reported that some deceased victims had marks on their bodies which indicated that they were tortured before they were shot.

Russian forces launched airstrikes on March 1 and 2 that hit eight residential apartment buildings in Borodyanka, a small town about 60 kilometers northwest of Kyiv. The airstrikes led to the death of over 40 residents and, during the strikes, large portions of the targeted buildings collapsed.

One of the survivors, Vasyl Yaroshenko, was standing near one of the buildings when it was hit. He recalled:

As I left my apartment to go do some work in the garage, as my wife was about to take a couple of elderly [neighbors] down to the basement. When I reached the garage, about 150 meters from the building, there was a huge explosion. I ducked behind the garage. When I looked I saw a large gap in the building. The whole middle section of the building had collapsed — exactly where residents were sheltering in the basement. My wife Halina was among those killed. I still see her by the door of our apartment, the home where we lived for 40 years.

The report discussed International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Geneva Conventions, including the Conventions’ Additional Protocol I, in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It reached the conclusion that there were clear violations of international law and that the acts committed by Russian forces constituted war crimes.