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Times letter 25.3.22.: Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Sir, One of the earliest 'war crimes' trials of the Second World War took place in the liberated Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in December, 1943. A Russian military tribunal considered German military atrocities, including the starvation and shooting of civilians, bombing hospitals, killing patients, and "burning down and destroying entire towns and thousands of inhabited places." The Russian prosecutor likened this to ".. the medieval barbarians or the hordes of Attila....the soldiers cannot but know that such actions constitute a travesty of international law and the laws of all civilised countries." The defence of 'obeying orders' was rejected and the accused were hanged. Perhaps this episode should be more widely known within the Russian military today,

Patrick O'Connor Q.C.

Doughty Street Chambers, London.


international criminal law