UN Security Council hears about Russian atrocities against Ukrainian women and girls: rapes, mass kidnappings

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Ukraine’s UN Ambassador shocked many today when he told members of the UN Security Council that Russia had abducted 121,000 Ukrainian children from his country since the start of its bloody invasion. The council gathered to hear about the impact of the Russian war against Ukraine on women and children.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine, told Council members that most of the children he believed had been abducted by the Russians were orphans and not those with parents or other relatives. He said the abductions were in clear violation of international law and conventions. He also claimed that Russia was drafting a bill that would “simplify and speed up adoption procedures for abducted Ukrainian children…”

Kyslytsya said the withdrawal of Russian troops from some areas left a trail of “unimaginable suffering, with murder, untold torture and sexual violence, including rape and mutilation”.

He gave an example he said was being investigated by the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office in a case where “a Russian soldier killed a local resident and then repeatedly raped his wife in their private home. The identity of the suspect has been established.” He called on the international community to investigate this crime and other crimes.

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He concluded his speech with emotion by reading a letter from a nine-year-old boy to his late mother.

“Mom. This letter is my gift for Women’s Day on March 8th…Thank you for the best 9 years of my life! Thank you so much for my childhood! You are the best mom in the world. I will never forget you! I wish you good luck in the heavens I wish you to go to heaven I will try to behave myself to go to heaven too I kiss you, your Tolya.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations, took aim at the Russian President: “When men like President Putin start wars, women and children are displaced. Women and children are injured. Women and children are raped and abused. and children die,” she said.

FILE - Marianna Vishegirskaya stands outside a shell-damaged maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
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FILE – Marianna Vishegirskaya stands outside a shell-damaged maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
(AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov, File)

Thomas-Greenfield spoke of the associated risks to women, children and minority groups during war and described how a deputy mayor of a city in Ukraine recently told reporters “that some girls cut their hair short , hoping to avoid rape by Russian troops. “

She noted that the United States helps fund projects to protect women and children in and around Ukraine.

The Security Council heard from Kateryna Cherepakha, President of La Strada-Ukraine, a women’s rights group. She told the council that her group had received reports of rapes committed against women and girls in towns occupied by Russian troops. She said Russian troops used rape as a weapon of war.

She said that in one case, a victim was raped in front of her family. She also noted that they will never get a full picture of the total number of sex crimes because many of those who were attacked are dead and will not be able to report the crime against them.

She noted that POWs were “exposed to torture, including sexual violence (and) stripped naked in front of groups of men, harassed and shamed.”

UNICEF director of emergency programs Manuel Fontaine told the council that in his 31 years of work in the humanitarian field, he had “rarely seen so much damage done in such a short time. “.

Fontaine said that of the estimated 3.2 million children who would have stayed home, almost half were likely at risk of not having enough food. He also noted that attacks on the water supply system and power outages have left around 1.4 million people without access to water and another 4.6 million limited access to water.

Ukrainian orphans are seen during a stopover in Warsaw on their way to the UK, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, March 21, 2022. A UK-based group, Dnipro Kids, helps the nearly 50 children to become refugees in the UK until Russia's war against Ukraine is over.  They were supposed to fly on Monday but got stuck in Warsaw due to a paperwork problem.

Ukrainian orphans are seen during a stopover in Warsaw on their way to the UK, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, March 21, 2022. A UK-based group, Dnipro Kids, helps the nearly 50 children to become refugees in the UK until Russia’s war against Ukraine is over. They were supposed to fly on Monday but got stuck in Warsaw due to a paperwork problem.
(AP Photo/Pawel Kuczynski)

He quoted the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCHR) on the growing number of dead and injured children: “As of yesterday, OHCHR verified 142 children killed and 229 children injured. We know that those numbers are probably much higher — and many of them were caused by crossfire or the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.”

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, pushed back and accused Western members of the council of continuing to unleash an information war against his country.

He complained that no proof had been given for all the charges against his country, and questioned the allegations aimed at Russian soldiers for the massacre of civilians in Bucha, as well as the bombardment last week a train station and other locations where Polyanskiy claimed fabrications took place.

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He then claimed that “the staging of the so-called atrocities of the Russian army is carried out by British directors”.

The British representative hit back at his Russian colleague for his comments that were labeled as lies.

Ukrainian servicemen search the rubble inside the Retroville shopping center after a Russian attack northwest of kyiv on March 21, 2022. - At least six people were killed in the nighttime bombardment of a shopping center in the Ukrainian capital kyiv, said an AFP journalist.  with rescuers raking the wreckage for other victims.  The 10-story building was hit by a powerful explosion that pulverized vehicles in its parking lot and left a crater several meters (yards) wide.

Ukrainian servicemen search the rubble inside the Retroville shopping center after a Russian attack northwest of kyiv on March 21, 2022. – At least six people were killed in the nighttime bombardment of a shopping center in the Ukrainian capital kyiv, said an AFP journalist. with rescuers raking the wreckage for other victims. The 10-story building was hit by a powerful explosion that pulverized vehicles in its parking lot and left a crater several meters (yards) wide.
(Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Lord Tariq Ahmad, Britain’s UN minister, told the council: “Unfortunately, we have once again heard Russia trying to distract from the facts, from the reality on the ground – to cover their tracks – by what can only be described as quite extraordinary statements, and even lies.Yet what is true, what is a fact, is that the Russian attacks on civilians and residential areas have been truly barbaric.

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The United Nations has so far met a dozen times on Ukraine since the eve of the Russian invasion and taken no meaningful action to stop Russian aggression. Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, has veto power and was forced to use it in February when the council demanded that Russia stop its invasion and withdraw its troops immediately.

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