US Files War Crimes Charges Against Pro-Russian Troops in Ukraine

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Historic Charges Under US War Crimes Statute

The United States has brought war crimes charges against four pro-Russian soldiers in Ukraine, marking the first utilization of a US war crimes statute enacted nearly 30 years ago. US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the charges, emphasizing the gravity of atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, which he deemed the largest scale of such actions in any European armed conflict since World War II.

Russia-Affiliated Military Personnel Charged

The indictment specifically names two commanding officers, Suren Seiranovich Mkrtchyan and Dmitry Budnik, affiliated with the Russian Armed Forces and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. The other two individuals, identified by their first names Valerii and Nazar, held lower-ranking military positions. The charges allege their involvement in the abduction and torture of an American national residing in southern Ukraine.

Abduction and Mock Execution

The Justice Department asserts that the four individuals unlawfully detained and tortured the American citizen, orchestrating a mock execution. The victim, not involved in the armed conflict, was seized from his residence in the village of Mylove. During the ordeal, he endured repeated interrogations, threats of sexual assault, and severe beatings. The mock execution involved pointing a gun at the victim’s head and firing a bullet just past him. The accused are charged with three war crimes—unlawful confinement, torture, and inhuman treatment—along with conspiracy to commit war crimes.

Ongoing Pursuit of Accountability

Garland pledged the Department of Justice’s commitment to pursuing accountability and justice for Russia’s war of aggression, emphasizing the heinous nature of the acts witnessed during the invasion. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison if the accused are taken into custody and convicted. The Attorney General hinted at the possibility of more indictments under the war crimes statute, which grants jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes against US citizens abroad.

Global Condemnation of Russia’s Actions

As the international community witnesses the unfolding horrors in Ukraine, the charges against these pro-Russian troops represent a notable step towards holding perpetrators accountable for their actions during the conflict. The US government aims to send a strong message against human rights violations and war crimes committed in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

SOURCE: Ref Image from RFI

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