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Russia charges 680 Ukrainian officials with war crimes

This picture shows Kiev forces sitting atop a BMP-2 infantry armored vehicle on a road outside the frontline town of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine on February 11, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Russia has charged 680 Ukrainian officials, including members of the security forces and defense ministry, with serious offenses that amount to war crimes, according to Russian media.

Those charged include 118 members of the armed forces and defense ministry, the state-run TASS news agency reported on Monday, claiming that they breached the laws that govern the conduct of war, including the use of weapons against civilians.

The news agency cited Alexander Bastrykin, Russia's chief public investigator, as saying that they were charged with the "use of prohibited means and methods of warfare", referring to Article 356 of the Russian criminal code.

"Currently, prosecution procedures are carried out against 680 people," Bastrykin said. "Among the defendants are 118 people from among the commanders and leaders of the armed forces of Ukraine and the ministry of defense of Ukraine."

Bastrykin, who reports directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that 138 of those people have been charged in absentia.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's prosecutor's office said the country's authorities have registered more than 70,000 Russian war crimes since the start of the conflict, which completes one year next week. 

Both the warring sides have denied targeting civilians in the protracted war that has killed thousands and displaced millions of others. 

Russia launched the military operation in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev administration's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Over the past year, Western countries, led by the United States, have shipped billions of dollars worth of weaponry to Kiev while slapping unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow to force it into submission. 

As the deadly war rages on, analysts see the US military-industrial complex as the main beneficiary of the death and devastation. 

On Sunday, thousands of anti-war protesters descended onto Washington DC to demand that the Joe Biden administration stop sending weapons to Ukraine, disband NATO military alliance, and join China and Russia in creating a multi-polar world.

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