Home Europe Russian soldiers deliberately kill Ukrainian kids, new film says

Russian soldiers deliberately kill Ukrainian kids, new film says

by editor

KYIV — Russia’s army has killed more than 500 children in Ukraine since the start of its full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukrainian prosecutors say.    

In the new documentary “Bullet holes,” journalists from the Kyiv Independent — a Ukrainian English-language news website — tell stories of three children killed by Russian troops in Ukraine: 10-year-old Kateryna Vinarska; 12-year-old Vladyslav Mahdyk; and 15-year-old Mykhailo Ustianivsky.

All three were shot dead by Russians at close range, according to Kyiv Independent reporters.

Vinarska was killed by Russian soldiers as they shot at a civilian car belonging to her grandparents at a checkpoint in an occupied village in the Kharkiv region. Mahdyk was shot dead by a single Russian bullet that also wounded his older sister as the family was trying to evacuate from Russian-occupied territory in the Kyiv region. And Ustianivsky was shot in the back for running away from a Russian armored vehicle in his village in the Kherson region, also occupied by Russian forces.

Their killers remain unpunished, and the children’s families are devastated — and want justice.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties — a Ukrainian watchdog documenting Russian war crimes — who is also featured in the film, said that Russia is deliberately using terror against civilians to break Ukraine’s resistance.

“These crimes are committed in all regions and they continue. We are ready to prove it in court. Because it is time to break the circle of impunity and cruelty that has become part of Russian culture,” Matviichuk told the Kyiv Independent in the film.

As of September, 504 children had been killed in Ukraine as a result of Russian aggression, Ukrainian prosecutors say.

Russia has repeatedly denied committing war crimes in Ukraine and even blamed Kyiv for killing its own people, claiming it only invaded Ukraine to prevent genocide.

Ukrainian officials have long fumed at Moscow’s accusations.

“Can a state use false allegations of genocide as a pretext to destroy cities, bomb civilians, and deport children from their homes? When the Genocide Convention is so cynically abused, is this court powerless? The answer to these questions must be no,” said Ukraine’s representative Anton Korynevych, during the recent World Court hearings in The Hague, where Kyiv has sued Moscow for abusing the Genocide Convention.

In turn, Kyiv says that Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine show signs of genocide. But the U.N. Commission of Inquiry has not yet found enough evidence to conclude Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine.  

“This a matter of intent, the intent of the criminals, there must be a ‘need’ to destroy a certain group. And such destruction, according to the Genocide Convention, must be physical or biological,” Erik Møse, chair of the U.N. commission, said during a press briefing in Kyiv.

However, the commission has already found evidence of wilful killings, torture, sexual violence, unlawful transfers and deportations committed by Russian troops, the commission said in a statement.

Even though officials find it hard to prove Russian intent behind the killings of civilians, journalists believe that public attention to these crimes can help to bring justice.

“If we keep documenting, if [we] remember, if we keep talking about these crimes, Russians will pay for that,” said Olga Rudenko, the Kyiv Independent chief editor.

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