Svetlana Ekimenko- https://sputniknews.com-Amid Western claims of Russia’s alleged preparations for an “invasion” of Ukraine, repeatedly been denied by the Kremlin, a letter from the US Ambassador to the UN addressed to United Nations High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet accused Moscow of drawing up lists of Ukrainians “to be killed or sent to camps” in the event of an alleged incursion.
Allegations on Russia having compiled a so-called “hit list” of Ukrainians to be “killed or sent to camps” in the event of an “incursion” into Ukraine were slammed as fake by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday.
“That is a lie. This is absolute fiction, there is no such list, it is fake,” Peskov told reporters.
The Kremlin spokesman was referring to an undated letter sent by US Ambassador to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Bathsheba Nell Crocker. to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and first reported by the Washington Post.
In the undated missive, the US official fed into the “Russian threat” rhetoric, saying:
“We are deeply concerned about Russia’s continuing human rights abuses in the parts of Ukraine it already occupies and have every reason to believe those concerns will multiply following a new military offensive.”
At this point, the US official most likely made reference to Crimea, which became a part of Russia in a referendum held in March 2014 in which nearly 96% of Crimeans voted to rejoin the country. Kiev, however, claims that Crimea is Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia, with this stance readily echoed by the US and many Western countries. Moscow has repeatedly stated that the decision made by the Crimean people was conducted in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter.
Crocker, who wrote that Russian forces had used tactics such as “targeted killings, kidnappings, illegal detentions, and torture” throughout previous operations, continued:
“Specifically, we have credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation. We also have credible information that Russian forces will likely use lethal measures to disperse peaceful protests or otherwise counter peaceful exercises of perceived resistance from civilian populations.”
According to Crocker, Russian forces would likely target those who oppose the Kremlin’s actions, including “Russian and Belarussian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.”
The report comes as attempts are being made to use diplomacy to defuse the volatile security situation in the Ukrainian breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR). OSCE observers have reported hundreds of violations of the Minsk ceasefire in the second part of the past week, with Kiev forces intensifying their shelling of the Donbass region. In response, Donbass authorities started an evacuation of their civilian populations to Russia on 18 February and by mobilising reserves.
DPR head Denis Pushilin said on Friday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would soon order an offensive against Donbass.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden have agreed on the principle of a proposed summit to lay out issues related to strategic stability and security in Europe, according to a Sunday release by Élysée.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are slated to meet on Thursday, 24 February, to begin the diplomatic effort.