Killings of civilians, rapes and more: The UN Human Rights Council paints a bleak picture of Russian crimes in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Poland is now delivering fighter jets. The news at a glance.
On the anniversary of the bombing of the Mariupol theater, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the recapture of the city and a war crimes tribunal against Russians. “The day will come and we will liberate Mariupol,” Zelenskyy said in his daily video address yesterday.
Military observers expect a Ukrainian offensive this spring. Armed aid from the West continues unabated – including with fighter jets from Poland.
Zelenskyj promises war crimes tribunal
In his speech, Selenskyj recalled the Russian air raid a year ago on the theater in the then heavily contested port city of Mariupol, where many civilians had found shelter at the time. “Russian bombs destroyed the theater in Mariupol,” said the 45-year-old. To this day it is not clear how many people died. “Hundreds? A thousand?” Zelenskyy asked. Moscow denies responsibility for the attack, claiming the theater was blown up by the nationalist Ukrainian Azov regiment.
The President of Ukraine called the bombing of the theater one of Russia’s many war crimes. “The day will come when a tribunal will be established to restore justice to our people,” he promised. According to him, the Ukrainian judiciary is working to clarify the cases. The country’s diplomats forged partnerships with foreign countries to bring the crimes before an international criminal court.
UN Human Rights Council: Serious allegations against Moscow
The UN has now also provided a template for this. According to an investigative commission of the UN Human Rights Council, Russian troops committed numerous war crimes in the Ukraine war.
These included premeditated killings, attacks on civilians, unlawful detention, rape and forced deportations of children, the report said yesterday in Geneva. In addition, waves of attacks by Russian forces on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and the use of torture could constitute crimes against humanity.
MiGs for Kiev: Poland delivers fighter jets
According to President Andrzej Duda, Poland wants to hand over four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in the coming days. More MiG-29s are currently being serviced and prepared for a later transfer, Duda said in Warsaw yesterday after a meeting with Czech President Petr Pavel. The country’s leadership made a corresponding decision, and the government then passed a resolution.
Duda further said that the Polish Air Force currently has about a dozen MiG-29s, which were taken over from East Germany’s stocks in the early 1990s. “They continue to be in full service as working MiGs for our anti-aircraft defence.” The machines handed over to Ukraine are to be replaced by modern fighter jets, which Poland ordered from South Korea and the USA.
Estonia and Lithuania announce further military aid
The Baltic states of Estonia and Lithuania will also continue to provide military aid to Ukraine in the fight against Russia. The Estonian government yesterday decided to supply semi-automatic rifles, sniper rifles, sights, binoculars, ammunition, individual and special equipment, patrol boats and thermal imaging cameras.
Lithuania’s new aid package includes 155mm ammunition, vehicles and troop rations, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas wrote on Twitter.
China calls for peace talks
China called on Ukraine and Russia to start peace talks as soon as possible. China hopes all parties will exercise restraint, resume peace talks as soon as possible and get back on the path to a political solution, Foreign Minister Qin Gang said in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba yesterday, according to the Chinese Xinhua News Agency. In the conflict, China is backing Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Russia is increasing the pressure on critics at home
The prominent Russian opposition figure Yevgeny Roisman was sentenced to 14 days in prison in Yekaterinburg for allegedly spreading extremist symbolism. The judge found Roisman guilty of an administrative offense, the Russian news agency Interfax reported yesterday.
Roisman is said to have shared a video of the sentencing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on the Russian social network VKontakte (vk.com), which featured the emblem of his Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), which is considered extremist in Russia. Roisman himself denies the accusation.
In addition, yesterday a regional politician was fined for a satirical protest with noodles during a speech by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. The deputy of the regional parliament in the Volga region of Samara, Mikhail Abdalkin, had to pay the equivalent of 1,850 euros, the Internet portal “Protokol.Samara” reported.
What is important today
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul today to discuss his country’s NATO membership. Finland expects Erdogan to announce his approval of Finland’s entry into NATO after months of delay. Russia has criticized Finland and Sweden’s efforts to join NATO.
In Ukraine, meanwhile, fighting continues, especially in the east of the country. Russia is still striving to capture the city of Bakhmut in order to have a result of its winter offensive. However, Ukraine is stubbornly defending the city, which is now completely in ruins.