The United Nations news center quoted Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, as having said that there have been approximately 124 cases of sexual violence thus reported since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine this past February 24. Earlier this week, Ukrainian news sources had indicated that nearly 22,500 other crimes, including war crimes, had been registered by Ukrainian authorities.
Patten cautioned that the 124 crimes of sexual violence only represent those that have been recorded, so far, and that it is estimated that there are far more crimes that have yet to be registered.
Sexual violence committed by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian civilians has been the focus of numerous investigations since the launch of Russia’s invasion in February, 2022. One such investigation unearthed an intercepted phone call between a Russian soldier and his wife.
In the intercept, the Russian woman is heard saying “You go there and rape Ukrainian women, just don’t tell me anything,” to her husband, a soldier in the Rusisan Army who was in Ukraine at that point. The woman though cautioned her husband that the “main thing is to use protection.”
Last week, a preliminary hearing into a Russian soldier accused of rape took place in Kyiv – the first trial of its kind since Moscow’s invasion. The suspect, Mikhail Romanov, 32, will be tried in absentia, and stands accused of breaking into a house in a village in Brovarsky District outside Kyiv, murdering a man, and then repeatedly raping his wife while threatening her and her child.
Following the numerous claims of sexual violence committed by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian civilians in Ukraine, visits to cities some of the effected cities most internationally well known, such as Bucha, have become a staple part of international VIPs’ trips to Ukraine.
In the past few months, Ukraine has received a steady stream of top-level international leaders, including Presidents and Prime Ministers of Britain, Moldova, Finland, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Lithuania, and others, in addition to leaders from some of the world’s most important international organizations, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan. Khan’s visit heightened international attention to the alleged human rights abuses committed during Russia’s occupation and the Prosecutor expressed alarm at what he had seen in Ukraine.
Following his visit to Ukraine, which involved visiting the sites of alleged atrocities, the ICC’s Prosecutor indicated in a statement that “the imminent opening of a field office of the International Criminal Court to further support the continued and increased presence of our personnel on the ground. This will be crucial in deepening our engagement with all actors in Ukraine and accelerating our investigative activities.”
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