The Russian army uses rape and sexual violence as part of its “military strategy” in Ukraine, a UN envoy said in an interview with AFP on Thursday.
The UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, said the UN had verified “over a hundred cases” of incidents of rape or sexual assault in Ukraine since February, citing partly the findings of a UN panel of experts in September.
CNN reported at the time on the findings of the UN’s Independent International Commission on Ukraine. The commission said it found evidence of war crimes, including cases of rape and torture of children, without specifying the number of alleged cases.
But Patten was more specific in her comments.
“When you hear women testifying about Russian soldiers being fitted with Viagra, that’s clearly military strategy,” Patten said Thursday.
Patten reiterated that the ages of victims of sexual violence in cases investigated by the UN range from four to 82 years old. She said that “there are many cases of sexual violence against children, who are raped, tortured and kidnapped”.
CNN cannot independently verify these claims.
Patten also said the number of victims “will never reflect reality” because it is an under-reported crime.
“I have consistently since February stressed the importance of having credible investigations into these cases of violence,” she said.
In June, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Kateryna Pavlichenko said police had received about 50 complaints of sex crimes committed by Russian soldiers. Prosecutors are also investigating a number of rape allegations in the Kharkiv region after Ukraine recently took over the territory.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov was questioned in September over allegations that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine, before the UN panel reported its findings , to which he replied that it was all a “lie”.