KYIV, May 16 – Ukraine’s security service SBU on Wednesday shared evidence with the U.S. indicating that Russia had used its military personnel to attack civil population in Donbas.
SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak shared the evidence with U.S. President Donald Trump's special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
At the meeting “proof has been provided of the involvement of Russian military personnel in crimes against humanity on the territory of Ukraine, in particular, the shelling of Mariupol and Volnovahi, which resulted in the deaths of 48 Ukrainian citizens," SBU said in a statement.
The evidence is important as Russia has flatly denied its involvement of its military in the conflict in Donbas, and may be used in justifying more international sanctions against Moscow.
SBU investigated the attack on Mariupol for more than three years. The attacks, which was carried out via rocket launchers from the territory controlled by rebel forces, killed 31 civilians in January 2015.
Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Azov Sea, came under rocket fire on Jan. 24, 2015. Separatist rebels initially announced they were advancing on the city, then backtracked and blamed Ukrainian forces.
Russia persistently denies allegations of supporting separatist rebels in Ukraine.
The Bellingcat investigative group in an independent research has earlier this month identified nine Russian army officers who allegedly were directly involved in the rocket attack on Mariupol.
These findings corroborate the investigation carried out by the SBU.
The Bellingcat group, which has previously released reports on the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the fatal downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory, analyzed video and audio data that Ukraine is providing to the International Court of Justice.
SBU’s investigators have established the involvement of regular servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces in a missile attack on the Skhidny residential district of Mariupol on January 24, 2015, which killed 31 people and injured 117 more.
SBU tapped phone conversations and used other methods to name two senior Russian army officers responsible for the attacks, including Major-General Stepan Yaroshchuk, Chief of Missile Forces and Artillery of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, and Colonel Alexander Tsaplyuk.
The SBU is also expected to transfer the findings to the International Court of Justice (ICC). (nr/ez)