Russia bears responsibility for its actions in all parts of Ukraine. A statement by the T4P initiative

The world community must reject Russia’s attempts to legitimise its “offshore” (extra-territorial) jurisdictions in occupied Ukraine, thereby evading responsibility for the war crimes and crimes against humanity it is committing there.
30 October 2022UA DE EN ES FR IT RU

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After the Russian invasion of 24 February 2022, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’ lost the minimal independence they formerly possessed. Since that date they have come under the direct control of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), its armed forces and other government departments. Russia’s armed forces were openly transferred, for example, to the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions and local paramilitary groups were instructed to obey their orders.

Under international law a country that occupies part of another, the Occupying Power (in this case Russia), exercises total control over what happens in that territory and bears full responsibility for such events.

Russia has repeatedly referred to the ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ to evade responsibility for international crimes committed in those parts of Ukraine. Its formal support of their artificial independence enables Russia to ignore the jurisdiction of international law, of Ukrainian legislation and of its own laws.


As a result, report the Ukrainian authorities, the media and other Ukrainian and international organisations, the following international crimes have been committed in the parts of Ukraine occupied by Russia:

1. People are arrested and detained en masse.

2. Mass extrajudicial executions are taking place.

3. Numerous civilians are disappearing due to actions in which representatives of the military administrations are involved.

4. Places of detention have been set up in the occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, in other occupied territories of Ukraine and in Russia itself, where Ukrainian citizens are detained for long periods without being charged or on any other legal grounds. Those detained include

  • Prisoners of War : thereby avoiding their recognition as POWs by Russia which blocks their return to Ukraine.
  • Civilian hostages : who are not combatants fighting for Ukraine and therefore POWs but were abducted by Russia’s armed forces.
  • Civilians who were not allowed to proceed further by enemy filtration camps.

5. Mass crimes are being committed in the places of detention set up by Russia on the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions.

In particular:

  • People are held in inhuman conditions, often without water, food or access to medical care, in overcrowded conditions that amount to torture and cruel treatment.
  • There are systematic and repeated incidents of beating, torture and rape.

6. The transfer of Ukrainians to Russia against their will.

7. The forced mobilisation of the male population aged 18 and over.

8. A number of other crimes.

The extent of these crimes could be significantly reduced if the governments of Ukraine and other countries, if national and worldwide media, left Russia in no doubt that it is fully responsible for all unlawful acts taking place in those territories.


The Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’ have no separate existence, nor do they possess their own institutions, including courts. On the territories they claim to control, therefore, international law must be applied, together with the laws of Ukraine or Russia.

In view of the above, we believe that

1. A single subject bears responsibility for all deeds committed in occupied areas of Ukraine and that subject is the Russian Federation.

2. We recommend everyone to desist henceforth from using the titles “Donetsk people’s republic” (DPR) and “Luhansk people’s republic” (LPR) since they do not reflect the reality of how those territories are governed.

It would be preferable to refer to them as “parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk Regions occupied by Russia” or “the administration of the Russian military occupation that calls itself the LPR/DPR”. The local administration should be referred to as the Occupying Power or the occupying administration of the Russian Federation.

3. Trials planned at courts in territory occupied by Russia are not legitimate. Their existence and activities are contrary to international law, and to Ukrainian and even Russian law.

4. Sentences passed at such trials, especially the death penalty, must be viewed in accordance with international law, and the laws of Ukraine or Russia, as extra-judicial sentences and executions.

Consequently, the implementation of such sentences is an international war crime for which Russia’s representatives in the occupation administration bear full responsibility.

5. All sentences passed by the “court of the DPR” should be considered extra-judicial sentences because they contravene international law, and the laws of both Ukraine and Russia.

6. Since Ukraine has abolished the death penalty and a moratorium on its use has been imposed in Russia, executions in the occupied territories are extra-judicial acts and should be regarded as international crimes committed by representatives of the Russian Federation.

7. Russia must recognise all those detained on the occupied territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk Regions as prisoners of war; those who are non-combatants should be released immediately as international humanitarian law demands.

8. Russia must open corridors, without delay, for civilians to leave the occupied territories and move to Ukraine in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 (“Relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war”).

9. International organisations, in particular the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), must insist that Russia observe the demands of international law on all occupied territories, including the Luhansk and Donetsk Regions, and facilitate an independent investigation of the international crimes that are constantly being committed in the occupied territories.

Abridged. The complete version may be read here, in Ukrainian and in English.

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