UN – The United Nations is hearing reports of increasing rape and sexual violence in Ukraine, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Monday, accusing Ukrainian human rights groups of using rape as a weapon of war against Russian troops.
Katerina Cherepakha, president of La Strada-Ukraine, said her agency’s emergency hotlines had received calls alleging nine rape cases against Russian soldiers, including 12 women and girls.
“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he told the council via video. “We know and see – and we want you to hear our voices – that violence and rape are now being used as weapons of war by Russian invaders in Ukraine.”
Russia has repeatedly denied attacking civilians since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The United Nations said last week that UN human rights monitors wanted to investigate allegations of sexual violence by Russian forces, including gang rape and rape of children, and claimed that Ukrainian forces and civil defense militias had also used sexual violence.
The UN mission in Ukraine did not immediately respond to a request for comment on allegations against Ukrainian forces.
“Russia, as we have said more than once, does not wage war against civilians,” Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador to the Security Council, told the Security Council on Monday.
Sima Bahaus, executive director of UN Women, said all allegations needed to be investigated independently to ensure justice and accountability.
“We are hearing about increasing rape and sexual violence,” he told the council. “The combination of mass displacement with the results of massive pressure on admissions and tenants, and the brutality displayed against Ukrainian civilians, have raised all the red flags.”
Ukraine has a recruitment system for all parties to the conflict, where young people are required by law to serve in the military. Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of using each other as agents.
Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” in support of separatists’ declaration of independence in two eastern Ukrainian provinces.
Ukraine’s UN ambassador Sergei Kislyas told the Security Council that Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office was “launching a special process to document Russian soldiers’ sexual violence against Ukrainian women.” – Reuters