August 22, 2022

Today marks six months since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The hostilities that followed have been characterized by widespread war crimes, potential crimes against humanity, and immense human suffering. At least 5,587 civilians have been killed and another 7,890 injured, according to the United Nations – likely a significant underestimate. Countless homes, schools, hospitals, and other civilian structures have been damaged or destroyed, many during apparently unlawful indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks, the vast majority by Russian forces. Often these attacks have used explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, including some with widely banned cluster munitions. In areas that they have occupied, Russian forces have carried out deliberate attacks on civilians, including summary executions, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence, and arbitrary detentions. This violence and abuse has led 6.7 million Ukrainians to flee the country over the past six months, while internally displacing another 6.5 million.

Human Rights Watch researchers have been on the ground in and around Ukraine since February 24 – and since the start of this war eight years ago – documenting some of the worst violations. We’ve interviewed hundreds of victims, victims’ families, and witnesses to abuses. We’ve visited towns and villages formerly occupied by Russian forces to investigate atrocities against civilians during the occupation. We also went to the sites of buildings that were hit by Russian bombing and shelling to establish the facts and determine whether specific strikes violated international humanitarian law, or the laws of war.

This video tells the story of some of the violations that we’ve investigated over the past six months.

In all of our research, what we hear again and again is that the victims of these violations want justice. We hope that the documentation we are doing will help lay the foundation for accountability efforts – and help deter these types of crimes from being committed again, in Ukraine and beyond.

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  • March 21, 2023 Audio
    The International Criminal Court judges issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In this Twitter Space, we discuss the warrants, war crimes in Ukraine, and why justice matters, everywhere.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech
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    Khodor Al Hauwsi listens to his battery operated radio in his dark apartment in Beirut. 
    Khodor Al Haushi listens to his battery operated radio in his dark apartment in Beirut, Lebanon.
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  • March 1, 2023 Audio
    In HRW’s weekly Twitter Space, experts discuss the environmental consequences of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with Lorina Fedorova from EcoAction, Doug Weir with the Conflict and Environment Observatory, and HRW’s Birgit Schwarz.
    A slime pit on the outskirts of New York on the front line in the Donetsk region, Ukraine.
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  • February 23, 2023 Audio
    On Student Press Freedom Day, Amanda Klasing leads a discussion on how students in Thailand and the United States are on the frontlines of defending democracy. Co-hosted with the Student Press Law Center, and featuring HRW’s Sunai Phasuk and SPLC’s Cate Charro.
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  • February 22, 2023 Audio
    It’s been one year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Birgit Schwarz moderates this conversation on ensuring justice for war crimes in Ukraine, with Yulia Gorbunova, and Maryna Slobodianiuk from Truth Hounds.
    Destroyed armored vehicles on a road
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