Russian forces have been accused of committing mass atrocities and war crimes in Ukraine, including murdering civilians. More than 900 civilian bodies have been discovered in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital Kyiv following the withdrawal of Russian forces, according to the country’s police force.
Many people were “simply executed” by Kremlin troops, authorities said this week, while hundreds more have reportedly been killed by Russian missile attacks.
At least 2,000 civilians have been killed since Russia launched its invasion on 24 February, though the true figure is thought to be much higher.
Russia has been accused of targeting civilian buildings including schools, hospitals and transport hubs, including Kramatorsk station in eastern Ukraine where at least people were killed, including five children.
More than 500 children have been killed or injured since the invasion began. There have also been harrowing reports of women and children being kidnapped and abused.
The Ukrainian government has already received more than 2,000 reports of crimes against civilians, according to the country’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova.
While reports emerging from Ukraine have shocked much of the West, some Russian appear to be in denial about the situation on the ground.
Jack Detsch, National Security correspondent for Foreign Policy, shared an extract on Twitter from the transcript of a call between a Russian soldier and his mother that was intercepted by Ukraine’s security service.
The conversation read: “Son, don’t lose morale! If only you saw what they are doing there. You are doing an honourable thing! We will remember that!”
The son replied: “What are we doing? Killing civilians and children?!”
The mother responded: “No, you are not killing civilians and children!
“You are killing fascists, dammit.”
Mr Detsch tweeted: “A sign of deep Russian denial over war crimes in Ukraine: Russian mother won’t listen her soldier son’s account of killing women and children, according to tape of the call intercepted by Ukraine’s security service.”
The Kremlin’s propaganda machine has largely blocked out the reality of Russia’s war with Ukraine.
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Any news outlets that have deviated from Putin’s narrative that the war is instead a “special military operation” intended to “liberate” Ukraine from its government that the president has dubbed a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis” has been shut down.
State-run news outlets have parroted the Kremlin line that the invasion is intended to stop the “genocide” of Russian-speaking Ukrainians, despite the majority of Ukrainian civilians killed so far being from Russian-speaking regions.
The Russian media has also covered up the death toll of Russian soldiers and reports of Russian war crimes, including executions of civilians in areas around Kyiv, brutal bombings of Mariupol and the possible use of chemical weapons.
The result has been relatively high support for Putin’s invasion, with both state-run and independent polls showing the Russian public’s approval well above fifty percent.
However, support for the invasion has reportedly wavered among Russian troops on the ground as the military steps up its attack on the east of Ukraine this week.
Reports have suggested morale among Russian troops has wavered as Moscow’s forces have faced significant challenges on the battlefield.
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NATO estimates that as many as 15,000 Russian soldiers may have been killed in less than two months of fighting, including a number of military generals in a major blow to Putin’s forces. Ukraine puts the death toll at over 18,000.
There have also been reports in recent weeks of Russian soldiers deployed in Ukraine refusing to fight or carry out orders, including sabotaging their own equipment and one instance of troops running over their own commander in a tank.
Russian soldiers have also said that they were “duped” into invading Ukraine, with an increasing number of first-hand accounts claiming troops were not told they were going to war and were lied about what they would face.
One captured Russian lieutenant said that lower-ranking soldiers were kept in the dark about the invasion, leaving them unprepared.
Another fighter said his men had been tricked into believing they were rescuing the country from Nazis and were surprised by the fierce resistance they were met with by Ukrainian forces.