U.N. investigators said Tuesday they had recorded the unlawful killing of 300 civilian adults and children in areas north of the Ukrainian capital since the withdrawal of Russian forces in April, and they estimated that thousands of civilians have died in the southern city of Mariupol.

The killings north of Kyiv included summary executions and civilians shot by snipers apparently firing randomly at people moving around on roads, Matilda Bognor, the head of a team of 55 investigators working in Ukraine for the U.N. human rights monitoring mission, told reporters in Geneva.

“Unfortunately, these numbers will continue to grow as we visit more areas,” Bognor said.

More about Russia’s war on Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities have often estimated higher death tolls than the United Nations since the war began Feb. 24. Ukraine’s human rights commissioner, Lyudmyla Denisova, said in April that she had recorded 360 unlawful killings in Bucha, a suburb north of Kyiv.

Bognor said that Russian military and affiliated forces in eastern Ukraine accounted for most of the abuses the mission had documented, but that it had also recorded “very serious” accusations of torture, ill-treatment and some executions of prisoners by Ukrainian forces. She also expressed concern over attacks by local police officers and armed vigilantes recruited by the government who had reportedly detained civilians, tied them up, stripped them naked and beaten them.


Hundreds of medical and educational facilities have been destroyed, and Bognor said both sides’ armed forces had used schools as military bases or placed heavy military equipment near them.

The mission also documented cases of the Russian military’s detaining civilians, mostly young men, and moving them to Belarus and then Russia, where they have been held in pretrial detention centers, Bognor said.

The United Nations has documented 3,381 civilian deaths and the wounding of a further 3,680 civilians, and makes clear that the actual toll is far higher. Thousands of civilians have died in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which is now under Russian occupation after weeks of intense conflict, Bognor said, but the mission has not had access to the city to document the exact toll.

Living conditions and lack of access to medical care have driven up the mortality rate in some areas, she said, citing the case of 10 older people reported to have died after days, or in some cases weeks, confined to a basement.

Ukrainian officials estimate that 20,000 people have died in Mariupol.