report calls for putin and russian officials to be investigated for assault on mariupol

Human rights groups said the attack on the Ukrainian port city pointed to unlawful actions by top Russian leaders.

President Vladimir V. Putin and other senior Russian officials should be investigated for war crimes after the destruction in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol killed thousands of civilians, Human Rights Watch and several other organizations said Thursday at the end of a two-year investigation.

The Russian assault on Mariupol from February 2022 to May 2022, was one of the deadliest episodes of the war, trapping civilians in basement shelters and drawing international condemnation.

Human Rights Watch, a New-York based human rights group, reconstructed the chain of command of Russian forces and listed 10 senior officials, including Mr. Putin; Sergei K. Shoigu, the defense minister; and Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, who most likely bore command responsibility for war crimes committed in Mariupol during that period. It identified at least 17 Russian or Russian-affiliated units that took part in the assault.

Human Rights Watch worked with Truth Hounds, a Ukrainian human rights organization, to conduct more than 200 interviews, mostly with displaced residents of Mariupol. It also used 3-D reconstructions and visual and spatial analysis by SITU Research for a detailed survey of the destruction of the city. Russia did not allow forensic experts to visit Mariupol.

The Russian government did not address the investigation’s findings publicly or respond to investigators’ inquiries, Human Rights Watch said.

The two-year study found that Russian air and artillery strikes on two hospitals, residential buildings and food storage and distribution sites violated international law.

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