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    5. Russia bombed food facilities as part of a “ruthless plan” ..


    Russia bombed food facilities as part of a “ruthless plan” to starve residents of Mariupol

    A Russian soldier stands near a bombed building in Mariupol, August 2022. Photo: YURIY KOCHETKOV/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

    Russian troops bombed food distribution points and vital infrastructure as part of a deliberate plan to starve civilians during the Battle of Mariupol, a new legal report claims.

    Global Rights Compliance, an international legal foundation working in tandem with Ukrainian prosecutors, said Russian troops should be held accountable for the war crime of starvation after a year-long review of open-source evidence found a “deliberately calculated” use of the tactic starvation during hostilities. 85-day siege

    His 76-page report, published today, is due to be submitted to the International Criminal Court prosecutor as part of a wider file of war crimes evidence compiled by Ukraine's prosecutor general.

    The capture of the Azov seaport of Mariupol was one of the main goals of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

    Russian troops surrounded the city in the first week of the invasion. The subsequent siege and urban fighting ended only when the last Ukrainian defenders of the Azovstal steel plant surrendered on May 20.

    The shell hits to the Azovstal metallurgical plant, May 2022 Source: MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS OF THE DONETSK PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC/REUTERS

    Much of the city was destroyed, and the municipal government in exile estimated that at least 25,000 civilians were killed in the fighting.

    A report released Wednesday said much of the destruction was deliberate and not collateral damage, and was intended to speed up the surrender by making the city uninhabitable.

    The investigation was carried out as part of the Atrocities Advisory Group, an initiative funded by the EU, UK and US, which was created in 2022 to help Ukrainian prosecutors investigate war crimes.

    It analyzed 1.5 billion square meters of satellite images, as well as photographs, videos, official public statements and other digital data collected between May 2022 and February 2024.

    The report also includes evidence provided by Ukrainian authorities, as well as never-before-seen photographs , made during the blockade.

    Residents of Mariupol at the market, December 2022 Photo: SERGEY ILNITSKY /EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

    Investigators have determined that attacks on critical infrastructure began on or before February 27, when Russian troops struck a major power line, causing about half the city was cut off.

    This was “immediately followed by a four-day shelling that completely cut off electricity and gas for more than 450,000 residents of Ukraine,” the report says.

    Russian troops continued to damage or destroy 90 percent of the city's medical facilities and at least 22 supermarkets used to distribute emergency supplies, the report said. The March 16 bombings of the Mariupol Drama Theater and the Neptune swimming pool, which were used as aid points, were also part of this scheme.

    The attacks “disrupted Mariupol civilians' access to critical resources” and combined with Russian troops obstructing access to relief and evacuation routes, which “was part of a ruthless plan to starve the city's population into submission,” the report said.< /p> Damaged roof of the Neptune Pool

    The purpose of the civilian famine was “to hasten the takeover of the besieged enclave, with such efforts clearly grew and ended with the announced capture of the city of Mariupol on May 20, 2022,” it added.

    Catriona Murdoch, director of the famine and humanitarian crises team at Global Rights Compliance and co-author of the report, told the Telegraph that her team had identified Russian military units and individual suspects they believed could be charged with a war crime related to the famine, but said they would not be named publicly while the investigation continues.

    “I call on the International Criminal Court to look into these crimes and the collective punishment of innocent Ukrainian civilians, seeking justice for the Russian leadership, right up to the Kremlin,” she said.

    Destroyed maternity ward at City Hospital No. 3

    The use of civilian starvation as a weapon of war was prohibited by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1988, but has never been prosecuted internationally.

    Neither Russia nor Ukraine are state parties to the Rome Statute, but Ukraine has accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC over alleged crimes committed on its territory. Russia denies war crimes committed during the invasion.

    The ICC has issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin in connection with the alleged mass deportation of Ukrainian children in July 2023, as well as two senior Russian military officers in connection with the bombing of civilian electricity infrastructure .

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