UN Security Council must prioritize accountability for Russian war crimes in Ukraine

A UN Security Council session due to take place today must urgently prioritize civilian protection and accountability for the litany of war crimes committed by Russian forces and call for an end to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Amnesty International said.

Russia requested the Security Council session, to focus on growing concerns over the militarization of a nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. The UN Secretary-General has warned that any damage to that or other nuclear plants could result in “catastrophic” consequences in the immediate vicinity and far beyond.

“The allegations we are receiving directly from Enerhodar, the town adjacent to the nuclear plant, speak volumes about the terrible impact Russia’s militarization of the plant and surrounding areas is having on civilians. Amnesty International is currently investigating these worrying reports and urges the Security Council to do the same,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

The UN Security Council’s unequivocal priority – with regard not just to Zaporizhzhia but across the entire conflict – must be to ensure civilians are protected.

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“The Council must also include accountability for the wide range of egregious Russian violations in the conflict to date.

“The imminent danger posed by the militarization of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is and should be the key issue for the Security Council. It would appear that this militarization is part of a broader strategy by Russian forces to threaten civilians and put millions of people at great risk. We should also keep our attention on Russia’s abominable conduct, and the fact that during its six months of aggression against Ukraine its forces have endangered and killed many civilians. We should not allow the Russian authorities to avoid accountability.”

Since the invasion, Amnesty International has documented and reported on numerous violations by Russian forces, including indiscriminate attacks, use of banned cluster munitions, and extrajudicial executions. Many amount to war crimes, which the Security Council must condemn and pave the way for those responsible to be brought to justice.

“The UN Security Council’s unequivocal priority – with regard not just to Zaporizhzhia but across the entire conflict – must be to ensure civilians are protected,” said Agnès Callamard.

Months of documenting violations

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Amnesty International has spent months on the ground documenting Russian violations and war crimes. The organization has published more than a dozen press releases, briefings and reports condemning these acts and calling for accountability. The organization has also urged Ukrainian forces to take additional steps to protect civilians. As in all armed conflicts, Amnesty International calls on all parties to prioritize civilian protection and adhere to international humanitarian law.

Below is more of Amnesty International’s work on the conflict to date:

1. Russian military commits indiscriminate attacks during the invasion of Ukraine: press release: Friday 25 February.

2. Ukraine: Cluster munitions kill child and two other civilians taking shelter at a preschool: press release: Sunday 27 February.

3. Russia/Ukraine: Prisoners of war must be protected from public curiosity under Geneva Convention: press release: Monday 7 March.

4. Ukraine: Russian ‘dumb bomb’ air strike killed civilians in Chernihiv – new investigation and testimony: press release: Wednesday 9 March.

5. Ukraine: Humanitarian corridors for civilians fleeing Russian attacks must provide safety – new testimonies: press release: Thursday 10 March.

6. Ukraine: Beleaguered town of Izium at breaking point after constant attack from Russian forces – new testimony: press release: Wednesday 16 March.

7. A guide to how Amnesty verifies military attacks in Ukraine: Friday 18 March.

8. ‘Everything is on fire’: One month since the Russian invasion of Ukraine: open letter: Thursday 24 March.

9: Ukraine: Russia’s cruel siege warfare tactics unlawfully killing civilians – new testimony and investigation: press release:Friday 1 April.

10. Ukraine: Apparent war crimes by Russian forces in Bucha must be investigated: quote: Monday 4 April.

11. Ukraine: Russian forces extrajudicially executing civilians in apparent war crimes – new testimony: press release: Thursday 7 April.

12. Ukraine: Russian forces must face justice for war crimes in Kyiv Oblast: briefing and press release: Friday 6 May.

13. Ukraine: Hundreds killed in relentless Russian shelling of Kharkiv: report and press release: Monday 13 June.

14. Ukraine: Deadly Mariupol theatre strike ‘a clear war crime’ by Russian forces: report and press release: Thursday 30 June.

15. Ukraine: Civilians killed by ‘reckless’ Russian attacks on Serhiivka apartment block and beach resort: press release: Thursday 7 July.

16. Ukraine: Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians: press release: Thursday 4 August.