U.S. Warns Russia Could Kill Critics, Dissidents, And ‘Vulnerable Populations’ In Ukraine During Expected Invasion
Ukrainians hold banners and Ukrainian national flags during a protest for peace in Ukraine at Krakow's UNESCO listed Main Square on February 20, 2022 in Krakow, Poland
Omar Marques/Getty Images

Russia likely has plans to kill critics, dissidents, and “vulnerable populations” if and when it invades Ukraine, the U.S. has warned the United Nations.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of a letter sent from U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Bathsheba Nell Crocker to Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights. The letter warned that the U.S. has “credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the report, calling it “absolute fiction” and saying during a call with reporters: “Do you realize that this is an absolute canard, a lie? It is absolute fiction. There is no such list. It’s a fake.”

Crocker, however, wrote in her letter that the U.S. is convinced Russia would “likely target those who oppose Russian actions, including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.”

The letter also warns that Russia would commit “human rights violations and abuses” and would use extreme force against protesters.

“These acts, which in past Russian operations have included targeted killings, kidnappings/forced disappearances, unjust detentions, and the use of torture, would likely target those who oppose Russian actions,” the letter said.

“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,” Crocker added in her letter.

Crocker also wrote that Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to the U.N. Security Council last week about the possible issue and reminded the U.N. high commissioner that the matter was also discussed in debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council in mid-December.

News of the letter comes after a report based on alleged U.S. intelligence claimed that Russian military forces had received orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine

“Because the intelligence says that Russian troops have actually received orders now, to proceed with the invasion,” CBS News correspondent David Martin reported over the weekend. “So not only are they moving up closer and closer to the border into these attack positions, but the commanders on the ground are making specific plans for how they would maneuver in their sector of the battlefield.”

It is latest escalation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, The Daily Wire reported.

“A U.S. official told reporters on Friday that 40-50% of the up to 190,000 Russian soldiers near Ukraine’s borders are now ‘in an attack position,’” The Daily Wire reported. The official added that those troops “have uncoiled in tactical assembly in the last 48 hours.”

The Agence France-Presse further reported:

Tactical assembly points are areas next to the border where military units set up in advance of an attack. The official said Moscow had massed 125 battalion tactical groups close to the Ukraine border, compared to 60 in normal times and up from 80 at the beginning of February.

The increase in clashes between pro-Russian separatists in the southeastern Donbass region of Ukraine and Ukraine government forces, and inflammatory claims by officials in Russia and Donbass, show that “the destabilization campaign has begun,” the official said.

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