Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, according to an Amnesty International report released Thursday. The allegations center on civilian torture, Russia’s forcible transfer of Ukrainian civilians to Russian-controlled territory and family separations. Russia has routinely denied all war crime charges.
The report includes numerous testimonies of civilians fleeing conflict zones and facing restricted escape routes by Russian forces. Most civilians face redirection to Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine or into Russia itself after a “filtration” process, which is often conducted in poor conditions and during which civilians are subjected to beatings or torture.
Upon arrival in Russian-controlled territory, civilians face an uncertain situation. Russia has offered a one-time payment of 10,000 rubles (165 USD) to each displaced person. However, little support is available to those who do not wish to stay. One young Ukrainian civilian who fled from Mariupol to Russia elaborated on her situation:
We didn’t want to stay in Russia. But we needed to get help from volunteers. We didn’t have any money so we couldn’t travel to Europe without help. Finally, via the internet we were able to contact people and get help to leave… The Russian authorities weren’t helpful. In contrast, they were really helpful with my boyfriend’s mother. But she wanted to stay in Russia, so the situation was different.
The redirection of civilians who have already reached safety is another major issue. Numerous at-risk groups like the elderly and children were evacuated before the conflict reached their homes. The report claims many of these groups were forcibly diverted from safety and into Russia, and children were specifically targeted for placement into Russian foster families. Restricted access to communication and diversion of individuals to facilities across Russia have made locating children for reunification with their families difficult. Amnesty International claims these actions for no credible reason are a clear violation of Geneva Convention Article 49 and an unlawful transfer of civilians.