The UN has said its investigators have concluded that Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraineincluding bombing of civilian areas, numerous executions, torture and horrific sexual violence. The team of three independent experts had launched an initial investigation into the Kiev, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, where they were struck by “the high number of executions in the areas we visited”, and the frequent “visible signs of executions on bodies such as hands tied on the back, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats.”
Long lines of vehicles continued to form at Russia’s border crossings on the second day of Vladimir Putin’s military mobilization. The president’s announcement of the first mobilization since World War II has sparked a stampede among military-aged men to leave the country, with some men waiting more than 24 hours or resorting to bicycles and scooters to overcome the miles-long queue of traffic jams. Traffic to Finland across the southeastern border with Russia remains busy, the Finnish border force said.
Finnish ministers announced Friday evening that the government will ban Russian tourists from crossing its borders the next few days. “The aim and goal is to significantly reduce the number of people coming to Finland from Russia,” President Sauli Niinistö told state broadcaster Yle.
The United States is ready, along with US allies, to impose additional economic costs on Russia if Russia continues its annexation of Ukrainethe White House said Friday. Russia has been planning what the US has described as mock referendums in parts of eastern Ukraine in what is seen as a step toward annexing these areas.
So-called referendums are underway in the areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian troopswhere residents were told to vote on proposals for Ukraine’s four regions to declare independence and then join Russia. The polls in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya provinces last until Tuesday and appear to be a meager attempt to cover the illegal annexation of the regions by Moscow.
Some residents are ignoring the vote, Andriy Yusov, a Ukrainian defense intelligence official, told CNN. Ukraine’s state security service has claimed that the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, which is controlled by Russian-backed separatists, plans to allow teenagers under the age of 18 to vote.
The “referendums” have been widely condemned in the west as illegal. British Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons described the “mock referendum” as “a media exercise” by Russia, for whom the results are “almost certainly already established”. NATO described the “referendums” as “Moscow’s blatant attempts at territorial conquest” and said they had no legitimacy. G7 leaders said in a joint statement they would never recognize the “mock referendum”.
Ukraine said Friday it had shot down four Iranian-made kamikaze drones used by Russian forces, which prompted President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to complain that Tehran was harming Ukrainian citizens. Ukraine and the US have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia, something Tehran has denied. Zelenskiy had asked his foreign ministry to comment on the use of Iranian equipment, spokesman Serhii Nykyforov said.
Russia will continue to communicate with United Nations on deal to export grain from Ukrainian ports, but says concrete results are needed, the Tass news agency quoted a senior official on Friday as saying. It also quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin as saying that Russia had a positive assessment of the UN’s efforts to resume exports of Russian fertilizers.
Ukrainian armed forces said it liberated another settlement in the Donetsk region and improved their positions around the eastern city of Bakhmut. The village of Yatskivka in the Donetsk region is now in Ukrainian hands, said Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of operations directorate of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The Chinese foreign minister has told his Ukrainian counterpart that the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected”. The meeting between Wang Yi and Dmytro Kuleba took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, and was the first since Russia invaded Ukraine. Kuleba said Wang had “reaffirmed China’s respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.