United Nations — The Biden administration’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Security Council on Monday that the “mountain of credible reports of atrocities committed by Russia’s forces against civilians has grown every day” since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. She said those reports “include horrific accounts of sexual violence.”
“Growingis emerging by day from de-occupied areas,” said Albania’s U.N. Ambassador Ferit Hoxha, who hosted the Council meeting. “We know now from the findings in the liberated towns and cities in Kyiv Oblast that civilians have been targeted, tortured, killed on a large scale, and that women and girls have been subjects of rape as a weapon of war.”
Thomas-Greenfield said Russian forces were “wielding sexual violence as a weapon of war,” and that the U.S. government had received reports “that Russian soldiers raped Ukrainian women for hours — and then killed them.”
In April, Ukrainian lawmaker Kira Rudykthat sexual violence was being used systematically “in all the areas that were occupied by the Russians.”
The U.N.’s special envoy for sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, said the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights’ monitoring team in the country had already evaluated 124 reports received from across Ukraine of alleged conflict-related sexual violence targeting women, girls, men and boys in the regions of Chernihiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Vinnytsia, Zaporizhzhia, Zakarpattia and Zhytomyr.
In grim detail, Patten outlined first-hand accounts given by Ukrainians to a national hotline over less than three months of war, including rape, gang rape, pregnancy following rape, attempted rape, threats of rape, coercion to watch an act of sexual violence committed against a partner or a child, and forced nudity.
Russia storms out
Addressing the Council on Monday, European Commission President Charles Michel called the violence against Ukrainian civilians “shameful acts… in a shameful war,” which he said “must be exposed to the light of day and prosecuted.”
Michel told Council members that Russia was singularly responsible for the.
“Let us be honest: The Kremlin is using food supplies as a stealth missile against developing countries,” said the senior European official. “The dramatic consequences of Russia’s war are spilling over across the globe. This is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty, and destabilizing entire regions.”
Michel said he’d seen “millions of tons of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships” during a recent visit to the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa, blaming Russian warships in the Black Sea, Russia’s attacks on transport infrastructure, and “Russia’s tanks, bombs and mines that are preventing Ukraine from planting and harvesting.”
As Michel continued to lambast Russia for the “barbaric” war, Moscow’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia — who in his own statement to the Council dismissed the accusations of sexual violence by Russian soldiers as lies — walked out in protest.
“You may leave the room,” Michel said as he left. “Maybe it’s easier not to listen to the truth, dear ambassador.”
Russia’s Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy later said Nebenzia had left because the European Commission chief was making “unsubstantiated claims, many of which have been already debunked.”