Russia and Their 4,500 Alleged War Crimes

An Update on the War in Ukraine


Although there have been numerous articles in the past Talon editions on the situation between Russia and Ukraine, it is extremely important that we all stay up to date on the events occurring there. Each week there is more and more information and changes in policy and military tactics between the two countries so there is always plenty to write about. This week especially has been a very important week for policy as there has been a surplus of horrific stories regarding war crimes.


Just yesterday (April 6th), a new video was released of a Russian missile hitting an ambulance in the parking lot of a civilian hospital. Ukrainian prosecutors are already investigating almost 4,500 alleged war crimes by Russian troops. One of the biggest stories in the past week was the invasion of a Kyiv suburb called Bucha. Bucha was a massacre of Ukrainian civilians, more than 320 were killed. One civilian describes her husband’s murder saying, “They took him from our home in his slippers,” she said. “They didn’t ask anything or say anything, they just killed him… They only told him to take off his shirt, kneel down, and they shot him.” In Bucha alone there have been many accusations of killing, rape, and torture by the Russians. A civilian woman was found in the basement of a school dead, with a Swastika burned onto her body and apparent marks of torture. A witness told the Human Rights Watch that she watched Russian soldiers line up five men to kneel, pull their T-shirts over their head, and execute them by gunfire. 


The Human Rights Watch, a humanitarian organization, has documented cases of laws-of-war violations by Russia in occupied areas of Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv in Ukraine. This included a case of repeated rape, two cases of summary execution (one is accused of a crime and then immedietaly killed after with no trial), along with other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians in March. This also included several cases of major looting of civilian property including food, clothing, and firewood. 


There are thousands of more stories just like this one, and although they are gruesome, it is important to understand exactly how Russia is handling this unprovoked war in Ukraine. All of these actions have been outlawed by the Geneva Convention of 1929. Russia’s response to these thousands of accounts of crimes: that it is all a “monstrous forgery” staged by the West (the United States), with zero evidence to support such a farfetched claim.


The original Geneva Convention was adopted in 1864 to establish the red cross emblem as a signal for neutral status and protection of all medical services and volunteers under it. Later the Geneva Convention was expanded to what it is now in 1949 in response to the grueling deaths and torture that occured during World War II. The Convention is accepted by 164 “states”. The most important parts of the Geneva Convention are that it bans the use of chemical and biological weapons, civilian discrimination/murder, torture, mutilation, taking of hostages, unfair trial, and cruel and inhumane treatment of POWs, as well as other provisions.

What Russian soldiers have done throughout their unwelcomed time in Ukraine has been certain violations of the Geneva Convention and they are subject to punishment from the UN. Because of these known violations, there have been an increase in sanctions against Russia including a new round of American sanctions announced by President Biden yesterday (April 6th). These consisted of first, a ban on American investments into Russian assets. The sanctions also froze Russia’s largest financial institutions assets, Sberbank, as well as the largest private lender, Alfa Bank’s, assets. Britain also froze Sberbank’s assets and said they would ban all imports of Russian coal by the end of this year to “starve Putin’s war machine”. Sberbank holds one-third of all total banking assets in Russia. Sberbank and Alfabank both claim this will not really affect their business, but in reality it will. One day after these sanctions were announced, shares in Sberbank tumbled by 8.1% by the end of the day. Additionally, America has enacted full sanctions on Putin’s two adult daughters. One of his daughters is active in the defense industry and the other has received billions of dollars from the Kremlin for “genetics research”. By cutting off Russia’s largest banks, the United States is “dramatically escalating” the financial shock on Russia, a senior administration official told reporters. These sanctions will prohibit transactions with any American financial institutions and freeze assets held by the banks in the US. 


The sanctions are a step in the right direction to hold Russia accountable for the long list of their crimes. This is far from over, the terrors won’t end in Ukraine anytime soon as peace talks have gone nowhere, and Russia is far from being properly punished. What we can do as Americans is stay updated on the news, and help Ukraine through donations and spreading awareness as well as to remember that we should be welcoming to all of those around us, as you never know what they’ve been through.