war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

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Five members of a family and people queuing for bread killed by Russian bombing of Chernihiv

Halya Coynash
Coffins that the Chernihiv authorities are forced to bury in trenches because of the Russian bombing and shelling Photo Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko

Five members of one family were killed by the Russian invaders on 16 March in the unending bombing and shelling of Chernihiv that Moscow calls a ‘special operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine’.  The victims also included ten residents of an ordinary Chernihiv suburb who were killed by the enemy while standing in a queue for bread.  

This was the second time that Russia killed civilians trying to survive by queuing for bread.  On 3 March, Russia bombed a central square of Chernihiv, with this reported to have killed 47 Ukrainians.  Amnesty International has concluded that the Russian air strike “may constitute a war crime”.   The evidence suggests that Russia used at  least eight unguided aerial bombs – known as ‘dumb bombs’, with AI calling this “a merciless, indiscriminate attack on people as they went about their daily business in their homes, streets and shops”. 

Chernihiv School building bombed on 3 March 2022 Photo Dimitar Dilkoff, France Presse

It is almost certainly true that all of the above, and many others, were indiscriminate in that Russia really doesn’t care who and how many civilians it kills.  Viacheslav Chaus, Head of the Chernihiv Regional Administration, is, however, convinced that Russia is systematically carrying out airstrikes and shelling, and destroying civilian infrastructure, while also blocking attempts to evacuate city residents.  Until the invaders agree to provide safe corridors, he says, he cannot send people to their certain death.  The Mayor of Chernihiv, Vladislav Atroshenko, reported on 16 March that the enemy shelling is becoming more and more intense, and that the city is, like Mariupol, deprived of water and electricity, and there are problems with supplies of food and medicine.  Over 200 civilians have been killed by the enemy since Russia began its invasion on 24 February, with the number of deaths in the city alos four times higher than customary, due to the appalling conditions, stress from the war, etc.   The authorities have been forced to bury coffins in trenches as the city cemetery is on the outskirts of Chernihiv and any funeral would come under Russian attack.

The world is watching this savage attack on Ukraine, with nobody doubting that this is an invasion of a democratic state and attempt to either seize control of it, or destroy it.  Under such conditions, it remains unclear why the international media consistently report that “Ukraine says” and then that Russia denies that it targeted civilians.  There is no need to play safe in this way when the photos and video footage clearly indicate that Russia is bombing and shelling apartment blocks, schools and hospitals. The systematic and unrelenting bombing of Mariupol, Kharkiv and Chernihiv make it entirely clear that neither the individuals dropping the bombs, nor those issuing the orders are in any doubt that they are hitting and killing civilians.

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