Credible evidence shows that Russia executed Ukrainians trying to surrender in the Donetsk region, a U.S. official told the U.N. Security Council.
U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack addressed the council Wednesday during a meeting focused on accountability in Ukraine.
"We now have credible information that a Russian military unit operating in the vicinity of Donetsk executed Ukrainians who were attempting to surrender, rather than take them into custody," Van Schaack told the council.
"If true, this would be in violation of a core principle of the law of war: the prohibition against the summary execution of civilians and of combatants who are hors de combat by virtue of surrender, injury, or other forms of incapacitation."
Van Schaack added that the evidence, including images, suggests that the atrocities are "not the result of rogue units or individuals; they rather reveal a deeply disturbing pattern of systematic abuse across all areas where Russia's forces are engaged."
"Our simple message to Russia's military and political leadership and to the rank-and-file is this: the world is watching, and you will be held accountable," Van Schaack said.
Russia, which began an unprovoked invasion into Ukraine on Feb. 24, has been accused of war crimes that includes the targeting of civilians, the kidnapping of children, torture and rape.
A top British human rights lawyer in charge of gathering evidence to prosecute Moscow for war crimes has said Russian troops have "tacit permission" to rape civilians.
The U.N.'s human rights office on Friday pointed to what it said is growing evidence of war crimes since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, declaring that humanitarian law appears to have been "tossed aside."
Humanitarian aid has been difficult to deliver due to Russia reportedly shooting at trucks and workers who are helping civilians, The Hill reported.
President Joe Biden has accused Russia of "genocide" in Ukraine, and the U.S. has implemented dozens of sanctions to target Russia's economy in an attempt to stop the invasion.
Top American officials also promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hundreds of millions of dollars in new aid during the highest-level U.S. visit to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion two months earlier.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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