The conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed civilian lives with “rampant impunity” in what may have constituted "war crimes” and crimes against humanity, according to a U.N. report.
The U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine says very limited accountability that has taken place, since fighting began in 2014 in the Donbas region between pro-Russia separatists and government forces.
Close to 90 percent of conflict-related civilian deaths have resulted from indiscriminate shelling of residential areas. It says up to 2,000 civilian lives have been lost.
In general, the report concludes that “impunity for killings remains rampant, encouraging their perpetuation and undermining prospects for justice.”
It particularly pointed out armed conflict in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, “fueled by the inflow of foreign fighters and weapons from the Russian Federation, accounts for the majority of violations of the right to life in Ukraine over the last two years."
A significant numbers of people, including civilians, have also been summarily executed or died in custody, the report says, with most such killings occurring in 2014 and early 2015.
According to the report, armed groups mainly executed individuals with “pro-unity” views or those believed to be supporters of Ukrainian forces, while Ukrainian forces targeted people affiliated with the armed groups or those who had “separatist” or “pro-Russian” views.
The 26-month uprising against the pro-Western Ukrainian government has killed nearly 9,500 people and plunged Moscow's relations with the West to a post-Cold war low.
The 20-page report, which has an additional 31-page annex describes more than 60 cases, focusing mainly on alleged killings of civilians, and people otherwise protected under international humanitarian law.
In the West, Russia is largely seen as having fomented and supported the unrest in eastern Ukraine as retribution for mass protests in Kyiv, which in February of 2014 toppled a pro-Moscow president. Russia denies charges of any official involvement.