The OSCE’s Second Expert Mission Report documents numerous violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocities committed by the Russian Federation and its armed forces during the ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.

The document notes that the magnitude and frequency of the indiscriminate attacks carried out against civilians and civilian objects, including in sites where no military facility was identified, is credible evidence that hostilities were conducted by Russian armed forces with disregard to their fundamental obligation to comply with the basic principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution that constitute the fundamental basis of international humanitarian law (IHL). As a result, a significant number of civilians have been killed or injured, and civilian objects have been damaged or destroyed in numerous towns and villages.

The Mission confirms the use of incendiary and cluster munitions, phosphorus bombs, and thermobaric weapons by Russian troops. According to experts, Russian armed forces have used at least six types of cluster munitions in attacks that have resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects, including homes, hospitals, and schools, since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

The experts draw attention to the massive violations of international law in the field of human rights by the occupying forces. Some of the most serious violations encompass the following:

  • targeted killing of civilians, including journalists, human rights defenders, or local mayors;
  • the illegal practice of establishment and use of so-called filtration centres by the Russian armed forces;
  • large-scale deportations of Ukrainian civilians to Russia;
  • various forms of mistreatment, including torture, inflicted on detained civilians and prisoners of war;
  • unlawful detentions, abductions, and enforced disappearances;
  • the imposition of the death penalty.

“The events concerning the towns of Bucha and Irpin, which the Mission visited, are described in the document as emblematic examples of the grave breaches by the Russian armed forces of international humanitarian law under the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, which constitute war crimes,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said.

The Mission also identified that actions such as the export by Russian occupation forces of Ukrainian grain from the country reveal signs of an organised activity, and these acts amount to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and must be properly investigated with those responsible for them brought to justice and those having suffered compensated.

Natalia Tolub

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