Russian Soldiers Raping Women, Ukraine Claims

Russian soldiers, pressing forward with their invasion of Ukraine, have been accused of raping women, by a resident of the occupied city of Kherson and by Ukraine's foreign minister.

Kherson resident Svetlana Zorina, speaking to CNN on Friday, highlighted the fear the local people feel now that Russian soldiers occupy the southern city. She said she had heard of an incident of a woman being raped and killed by a Russian soldier.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also alleged on Friday that there had been "numerous cases" of Russian soldiers raping women in Ukraine, according to a Reuters report. However, so far, there has been no evidence to support either claim.

The U.N. Security Council noted in a 2008 resolution that women and girls were particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence in wars, "including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate [and] instil fear."

Although rape is common during wars, accusations of rape can also be used as a propaganda tool to vilify the enemy and this tactic has been used in past conflicts.

A snippet of the interview with Zorina has been posted on social media by CNN journalist Nora Neus.

"Our resistance now is to just sit at home and take care of ourselves," she said.

"We are scared, they already started to rape our women. There was information from people who I personally know, that a 17-year-old girl, it's happened to her and then they killed her.

"So we are terrified and scared but we are not going to give up."

Foreign Minister Kuleba also made allegations of rape while speaking in an online event organized by London's Chatham House think tank.

"When bombs fall on your cities, when soldiers rape women in the occupied cites, and we have numerous cases of, unfortunately, when Russian soldiers rape women in Ukrainian cities, it's difficult, of course, to speak about the efficiency of international law, " Kuleba said, without providing any evidence for his claim.

Newsweek was unable to independently verify whether cases of rape had occurred during the Ukraine war. Newsweek has contacted Ukraine and Russian authorities for comment.

While reports of rapes of Ukrainian women by Russian soldiers remain unverified, if confirmed it would have echoes of the Soviet advance into and occupation of Germany at the end of World War II when historians say rape was widespread.

The allegations surfaced as some of Russia's closest allies abandoned the country on Friday during a vote of the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council to condemn alleged human rights violations in Ukraine.

Only Eritrea joined Russia in voting against the resolution as 32 countries of the 47-member body based in Geneva, Switzerland, voted in favor of establishing an independent commission to investigate the allegations against Russia.

Thirteen countries abstained from the vote, including some nations generally considered close to Russia. China, Cuba and Venezuela all abstained.

While she made no mention of rape allegations, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, told the Human Rights Council on Thursday that the Russian attack was "generating massive impact on the human rights of millions of people across Ukraine."

The vote follows an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, where 141 of the 193 member states of the United Nations backed a resolution condemning Russia's invasion.

Follow our live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference with his Belarus counterpart, following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 18, 2022. Russian soldiers have been accused of raping Ukrainian women Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Getty Images