Satellites Show the Alarming Extent of Russian Detention Camps

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A day later Six months into the war in Ukraine, a new report reveals never-before-seen information about Russia’s system of infiltration camps in eastern Ukraine, where civilians and prisoners of war are detained, interrogated and sometimes forcibly deported. in Russia Researchers have also identified what they believe are graves near camps where prisoners of war (POWs) were held.

The camps, all located in eastern Donetsk region, were identified by the Conflict Observatory, a US government-funded partnership between Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Laboratory, the Cultural Rescue Initiative of the Smithsonian, the artificial intelligence company PlanetScape Ai and the geographic company. Esri mapping information system (GIS) software. Their report used images from Telegram channels, commercial satellites and existing documentation to identify the locations of camps used by the Russian military for interrogation, detention and registration of Ukrainian civilians, some of whom are later forcibly deported in Russia

“This is the first report that conclusively identifies with high confidence 21 facilities dedicated to leaking Ukrainian civilians,” says Nathaniel Raymond, co-leader of the Humanitarian Research Laboratory and professor at the Jackson School of Global Affairs at Yale. An earlier intelligence report had earlier identified 18 suspected leak centers. “We can’t estimate just based on geospatial and OSINT how many are in custody and how many have passed. That’s not methodologically possible. However, we have a feeling that the scale here covers an oblast, the equivalent of a state.”

The system of leaks, which US government reports indicate has increased in recent months, has been particularly difficult for outside human rights and humanitarian groups to assess. Only those with permission from the Russian forces have been able to access the camps. Reports from detainees who have been released from leak facilities, however, indicate that they have faced interrogation and even torture. Former detainees have reported being locked in cells where they slept in shifts, had their phone contacts and biometrics collected, and were separated from their families.

Although there are no clear figures on how many Ukrainians have been forcibly relocated, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe estimated that on 25 June 2022 , about 1.7 million people had already arrived in Russia. Many experts have called these tactics genocidal.

“Ukraine’s forced deportations are an illegal transfer of people protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention and international human rights law,” said Matthew Steinhelfer, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Conflict and Stabilization Operations of the United States Department of State. “This constitutes a war crime.”

“Eyewitnesses, survivors and Ukraine’s attorney general have reported that Russian authorities have transported tens of thousands of people to detention centers inside Russian-controlled Donetsk, where many are believed to be tortured,” the secretary said. of State of the United States, Anthony Blinken, in a statement released last month. . Although some people are processed by Russian forces and later released, “evidence is mounting that Russian authorities are also detaining or disappearing thousands of Ukrainian civilians who do not pass the ‘filter.'” Those detained or “filtered” include Ukrainians considered threatening because of their possible affiliation with the Ukrainian military, territorial defense forces, media, government and civil society groups.”

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