On the eve of 2023, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed that his country will continue fighting off Russian attacks until it secures only one thing: victory against the aggressor.
“I want to wish all of us one thing – victory,” he said in a video message on new years eve. “We were told to surrender. We chose a counterattack … we are ready to fight for (freedom). That’s why each of us is here … we are all Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy’s defiant message was broadcast as Russia signaled no let up in its large-scale attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, which are largely seen as part of Moscow’s attempts to demoralise the nation as winter sets in.
But despite the periodic bombardments inflicted on the war-torn nation, and the endless ringing of sirens that signal danger, Ukrainians continue to resist and fight for their right to be an independent nation. Meanwhile, journalists also continue to fight for the truth, helping to document Russia’s war crimes.
Children deported illegally by Russia amount to war crimes
More than 10,000 Ukrainian children have been illegally deported to Russia, placed in orphanages or sanatoriums, and many ultimately adopted by Russian families, according to a report carried out by The Washington Post.
The WP spoke with a family whose children were returned home to Ukraine, and the difficult and dangerous journey relatives had to overcome to get their children back. “It is one of the ways that Russia is trying to destroy Ukrainian identity,” Alexandra Romantsova of the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, told the WP.
One boy, Oleksandr, managed to avoid adoption by a Russian family only because he remembered the telephone number of his grandmother, who he called to pick him up. But her journey was not easy: she had to travel through Europe, through the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, where she finally reunited with her grandson. Others had to perilously navigate forests fraught with mines to get their children back.
“It is a potential war crime to remove children during conflict or to change their nationality, but Russia has been secretive about how many Ukrainian children have families or relatives who want them returned home,” the WP’s report states. According to Ukraine’s top children’s rights official, Daria Herasymchuk, 10,764 Ukrainian children have been reported by relatives or family as being deported by Russia without their parents.
- Read the full article, here.
Russia’s use of cluster munitions falls outside international law, HRW says
Since Russian forces retreated from the Ukraine region of Kherson in November, Moscow’s forces have allegedly fired cluster munitions on areas of Kherson that are populated with civilians at least three times, Human Rights Watch reports.
Cluster munitions – which have been fired from across the Dnieper River – are banned by international law and could constitute war crimes, and need to be investigated, the organisation says.
HRW visited liberated Kherson, the sites of the attacks and spoke with eyewitnesses of what it describes as “indiscriminate attacks with cluster munitions.” Belkis Wille, associate crisis and conflict director at HRW, says that “these attacks are being carried out with no apparent regard for civilian life,” and that “they are a direct rebuke to claims by Russia that it is only targeting the military.”
- You can read the HRW report, here.
Civilians captured, subject to terror by Russian forces
In the first days of the war, Russian soldiers allegedly terrorised civilians of two villages in the Chernihiv Oblast region. According to a report by ‘Slidstvo info’, Viktoria Andrusha, a 25-year-old teacher who fled from Brovary in the Kyiv region, was captured and detained by Russian forces for allegedly collaborating with the Ukraine army. “When she was leaving the house, she kissed me and asked to say goodbye to her father,” Andrusha’s mother said..
But in Andrusha’s absence, her parents were blindfolded, intimidated, threatened and mocked by Russian soldiers and detained in a damp basement. Her father was interrogated and subject to gunshots fired over his head.
- You can read the full article and watch the video, here.
Survivor of a Russian torture chamber reveals inhumane conditions
Vasyl Buba, a Ukrainian soldier from the village of Chongar, Kherson region was captured by the Russian army and held in a torture chamber in Simferopol in occupied Crimea. ‘Slidstvo.info’ spoke with Buba, who survived the ordeal and revealed the terror and abuse that prisoners were subject to there.
Buba, who has been defending Ukraine since 2014 has been detained and released several times. At that location, he was beaten and forced to cooperate.
“Once they arrested one policeman and raped him with a truncheon,” he said. “Three days later, the guy hung himself. They were just killing people there.”
- Read the full article on how the man survived captivity and ultimately escaped, here.
Edited by Stephen McGrath
Photo: Telegram channel – Kyrylo Tymoshenko, The Office of the President of Ukraine