UN indicates increasing Russian involvement in east Ukraine

United Nations sees some growing signs of evidence of Russian involvement, while death toll also increases as well as human rights violations

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United Nations Human Rights Office reported on Monday that there were some growing signs of evidence of Russian intervention without conclusive legal proof whereas death toll gradually increases in eastern Ukraine.

"We are speaking about increasing inflow of [unofficial] fighters and increasing evidence that there are also some [Russian] servicemen involved in fighting," Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic told some passages from the UN report in a news conference in Geneva.

The UN report also indicated that at least 6,417 people have been killed, including 626 women and girls, and 15,962 others wounded in more than 13 months of fighting in eastern Ukraine where human rights abuses also continued despite a ceasefire agreement was put into force as of February.

"This is a conservative estimate and the actual numbers could be considerably higher," noted the 10th report of the UN Human Rights Office on Ukraine, which covers the period from Feb. 16 to May 15, 2015 during which the Minsk Protocol was forced to be implemented by the belligerent parties.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced this month that the separatist war in the east had caused the death of 7,000 people, a number that has been clashing with the UN official figures.

"More than 1.2 million people internally displaced since the beginning of the conflict suffer from impeded access to healthcare, housing and employment," the report also said.

"Serious human rights violations and abuses [...] persist in eastern Ukraine, including shelling, executions, arbitrary and illegal detentions, torture, ill-treatment, human trafficking and the lack of justice and accountability, as well as deprivation of economic and social rights that are deeply affecting the five million people living in the conflict-affected areas," the report summarised the situation in the war-torn east Ukraine.  

The UN report also enlightened the predicament of Tatar population in Russia’s annexed region of Crimea as it said “harassment and arrests of Crimean Tatars continued.”

"Control of the media in Crimea was tightened. At least seven media outlets using Crimean Tatar language, including a TV station and a newspaper, which are most popular among the Crimean Tatar community, were denied re-registration under the law of the Russian Federation and have ceased operating," the UN report emphasised.

Since Ukrainian authorities have shown two Russian soldiers who were captured during a battle with the pro-Russian separatists, both Ukraine and the West started to voice up against Russia’s alleged role in the country’s restive east.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said last week Russia has been keeping its frontline forces in the east where Kiev army and pro-Russian separatists could resume conflicts soon despite the fragile ceasefire.

Russia denies such allegations and accusations by Kiev and the West and says that its soldiers have only been patrolling the porous borders with the eastern Ukraine.

Moscow also said the two captives were former soldiers who had already left the military and they were very likely to be “volunteer soldiers” backing the separatists.

But the capture of the soldiers came just days after the release of a report published by the Russian opposition claiming at least 220 Russian soldiers were killed in the war in eastern Ukraine in the past year.

"It is very difficult to prove whether they are servicemen or not. That is why mostly we are speaking about 'fighters' of the Russian federation," said Armen Harutyunyan, head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

If the allegations are proven to be right, Russia might face off with the accusations of war crimes and potentially a trial at the Hague International Criminal Court which the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin had previously announced his country wants to join in the near future.

Last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to withdraw all troops and heavy artilleries from Ukraine as well as to stop supporting the pro-Russian separatists in the region.


TRTWorld and agencies