Russia has charged 680 Ukrainian officials, including 118 members of the armed forces and defense ministry, with breaking laws governing the conduct of war, including the use of weapons against civilians, TASS news agency reported on Monday, February 20.
According to the report, which quoted Russia’s chief public investigator, the Ukrainian officials were charged with the “use of prohibited means and methods of warfare”, referring to Article 356 of the Russian criminal code.
“Currently, prosecution procedures are carried out against 680 people,” Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia, told the state TASS news agency in an interview.
“Among the defendants are 118 people from among the commanders and leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.”
Bastrykin, who reports directly to President Vladimir Putin, said that the charges include the use of weapons against the civilian population. He added that 138 of those people have been charged in absentia.
Reuters could not independently verify the committee’s allegations. Ukrainian authorities were not immediately available for comment.
According to Ukraine’s Prosecutor Office, Ukrainian authorities have registered more than 70,000 Russian war crimes since the start of the conflict. Ukraine has also unveiled a number of criminal cases against members of Russia’s forces, including against the boss of the Wagner mercenary group.
Both Ukraine and Russia have denied targeting civilians in the year-long invasion of Russia of its neighbour that has killed thousands, displaced millions, and turned cities to rubble.
Last week, US President Joe Biden’s administration said it formally concluded that Russia has committed “crimes against humanity” in Ukraine, a charge that Russia denies. – Rappler.com
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