According to the United Nations, the civilian death toll from the conflict in Ukraine may be thousands higher than the official figure. The military has begun collecting data on civilian casualties during the fighting and says the actual figure may be even higher. It also believes that civilian casualties were caused by explosive weapons that spread their impact zone widely. In addition, the withdrawal of Russian forces from towns around the capital Kyiv has harmed civilians, according to the UN.
U.N.: Ukraine civilian death toll may be "thousands higher" than official figure
The head of the U.N.'s human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine says the civilian death toll may be thousands higher than reported, but many of these deaths are not counted in the official tally. He says the number of civilians killed in the conflict is increasing every day. He also believes that Russia's military campaign in Ukraine may have flaws that could increase the death toll.
The Pentagon said it has seen evidence that the Ukrainian government has been sending thousands of its citizens to Russia. While Ukraine says 1.2 million people have fled the conflict, the United Nations says the real number is likely much higher. The Pentagon is investigating that figure. But for now, the U.N.'s U.S. ambassador says he is "concerned" about the civilian death toll.
The OSCE's investigation started last month, and most of its member states - the United States, Russia, and Belarus - voted in favor of the fact-finding mission. However, Russia did not vote for the report and has not publicly responded. However, the fact-finding mission was triggered by a vote in the OSCE's "Moscow Mechanism," named after a 1991 conference held in the Russian capital. This mechanism is designed to facilitate international cooperation on human rights issues.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister has requested a special session of the Security Council to press Russia to allow the evacuation of Mariupol, where some 100,000 people are trapped. A U.N. human rights monitoring mission said the number of civilians killed in Ukraine could be thousands higher than the official death toll of 3,381 reported by Russian forces. A contingent of Ukrainian fighters is holding out against Russian forces inside a steel mill. This has also become a safe haven for hundreds of civilians.
Ukrainian military began collecting data about civilian harm in fighting
In the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a small part of the Ukrainian military began collecting data about civilian harm in combat. This makes them one of the few militaries that systematically track such incidents. However, the method used by the Ukrainian military to compile its data is flawed. It relies on wide estimates from various institutions, such as eyewitness accounts and forensic reports, and is therefore not transparent. It also relies on estimates from three independent sources, which makes it difficult to cross-check and knit together.
As the Ukrainian military continues its offensive, the international community must ensure it collects detailed information about all incidents of civilian harm in conflict zones. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented nearly 2,500 civilian casualties, but it is unclear if the actual number is higher. Despite this, the Ukrainian government sent mobile phone-equipped investigators to the conflict zones to gather evidence of possible war crimes.
Russian withdrawal from towns around Kyiv
A Russian withdrawal from towns around Kyiv doesn't mean peace in the region, says Zelenskyy. The Russians may be attempting to block arms supplies coming from European Union countries by cutting off their supply lines. But Ukraine's forces have so far held off any incursions into Kyiv's western suburbs. Earlier this week, Russian troops attacked the town of Irpin.
Meanwhile, Russian forces were still advancing elsewhere in the eastern Ukraine, including the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol. Mariupol, in the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region, has been under attack by Russian-backed separatists for eight years. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said that the Russians have halted all evacuation efforts from Mariupol. However, local officials say the Russian forces continue to advance on the city and are blocking evacuation efforts.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based research group, believes that Russian forces are likely to capture Mariupol in the next week. Mariupol has been under siege by Russian forces for forty days. The city's residents are suffering from lack of basic necessities, including water and food. In addition, the city is being shelled by aerial bombardment on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the government is trying to identify the bodies found in the rubble after the Russians took the town.
The Russians' advance toward Kyiv has slowed over the past weekend. This might have been because Russian forces underestimated the Ukrainian forces. Ukraine has managed to hold several cities and towns despite the Russian invasion. Earlier, footage from Kharkiv showed Russian forces advancing near the city center. But they were largely pushed back in the city center. Despite the Russians' recent advances, the Ukrainian forces are still defending the capital.
Russian chemical weapons used in Ukraine
The U.S. President Joe Biden has warned Russia against using biological weapons against its own people. He has also urged U.S. companies to beef up their cybersecurity and prepare for cyberattacks by Russia. Meanwhile, Russia continues to bombard Ukrainian cities. Meanwhile, Ukraine's deputy prime minister said Russian air strikes in the city of Mariupol killed more than 10,000 civilians. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country is willing to discuss neutrality. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the death toll was still "unverified." But he added that the US was using its intelligence to figure out what happened.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, oligarchs, and institutions to try and prevent any further attacks in Ukraine. But this move has met with widespread condemnation in Russia, which has said that it is "not responsible for any of the attacks." The U.S. has also approved an export license to Ukraine for small arms but has ruled out the sale of larger weapons.
The United States, France, and the UN have called for an independent investigation into allegations that Russian servicemen used chemical weapons against civilians in the town of Bucha. The German government has also suggested that European officials halt purchases of Russian gas from Russia. However, Germany has resisted this call so far. Meanwhile, Putin has vowed to continue with his "special military operation" in Ukraine, despite allegations of sexual violence against Ukrainian women.
In a letter to Putin, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden blamed the U.S. for the crisis and hoped for dialogue. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. At the UN Security Council, he also met with the Russian Foreign Minister. Both sides are trying to get a deal done before the crisis escalates further.
Methodology for estimating civilian casualties
The U.N. and its human rights office are due to publish a methodology for estimating civilian casualties in Ukraine, with the goal of producing a realistic figure. This methodology is based on the daily count of civilian deaths in bombings around the world, which is often higher than the official UN number. But the number has been suppressed due to the U.S. occupation, and the situation in Ukraine is particularly dangerous.
These estimates are based on broad estimates derived from institutional documentation and eyewitness accounts. These sources are not published to the public and may include estimates based on "guesstimates" or unreliable statistics. In addition, they may not be cross-checked or knit together with data from other sources. That's not the only problem with these estimates: the methodology can only provide a rough estimate, and a precise number may not be possible.
The United States is pushing for the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into war crimes committed in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Turkey has announced that it will apply the Montreux Convention, which gives it the right to block warships from entering the Bosporus and Dardanelles Strait. These are serious accusations that Russia must heed. This means that the international community should be vigilant. There are no excuses for committing war crimes.