Ukrainian police investigate 26,000 war crimes, expect ‘thousands’ more

A Russian rocket attack in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine (AP)
A Russian rocket attack in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine (AP)

Ukraine police are investigating 26,000 war crimes by Russian soldiers, and thousands more are expected to be uncovered.

Gathering evidence to prosecute Russian forces has become “one of the biggest burdens” for national police, security service officers and prosecutors, who often work under fire or with the threat of airstrikes.

“Everyday we record the death of many civilians,” Ukraine’s interior minister Denys Monastyrskiy told Sky News.

“Statements are gradually coming from those who have lost their loved ones, who have gone missing. There are usually dozens of statements after each shelling.”

He said he is “convinced” more war crimes will be uncovered in Mariupol, Volnovakha and Severodonetsk - cities currently under occupation.

“We are also investigating those crimes committed by the political establishment of the Russian Federation, directing the troops and allowing them to commit war crimes, such as rape, killing of children, and killing civilians in general. They let their commanders do it,” he told the broadcaster.

Ukraine officials are being supported internationally, including the US, which has donated a mobile DNA collection unit. This helps investigators process DNA from bodies.

In total more than 40 countries have offered assistance and $20m has been pledged to help fund the office of Ukrainian prosecutor-general.

Russia is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It withdrew its recognition of the ICC after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, meanwhile Ukraine is yet to ratify its membership.

A special international tribunal is being considered by The Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry claimed on Saturday to have taken full control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts of Donetsk, while Ukraine’s military command said later that “fierce fighting” continued in the village.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other on Friday of risking disaster by shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant, occupied by Russian forces in a region expected to become one of the next big front lines of the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy renewed his call on Friday for European Union states to ban visas for Russian nationals to keep the bloc from becoming a “supermarket” open to anyone with the means to enter.