EVIDENCE OF “WAR CRIMES”
Putin this week warned that Moscow would use “all means” to protect its territory – which former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said on social media could include the use of “strategic nuclear weapons”.
The referendums recall the one held after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denounced the polls, on Friday calling them “crimes against international law and the law of Ukraine”.
G7 nations declared the polls will “never” be recognised and have no legal effect or legitimacy”.
Otherwise, UN investigators on Friday accused Russia of committing war crimes on a “massive scale” in Ukraine – listing bombings, executions, torture and horrific sexual violence.
Erik Mose of the Commission of Inquiry – an investigative team set up by the Security Council in March – said they had seen evidence of a “large number of executions” and the rape and torture of children.
In eastern Kharkiv region, Ukrainian officials said Friday they had finished exhuming 447 bodies from a site near the city of Izyum, which was recaptured from Russian forces.
“Most of them have signs of violent death, and 30 have signs of torture,” said Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Synegubov.
“There are bodies with rope around their necks, with their hands tied, with broken limbs and gunshot wounds.”
The Kremlin has accused Kyiv of fabricating evidence of the alleged war crimes.