One tragic Ukraine story told with drones, satellites and social media

When Russia invaded, Filkina stayed behind, helping people in Bucha and cooking for the Ukrainian army, according to her daughter.

She got a red manicure for Valentine’s Day and drew “a heart on her finger because she started loving herself,” her daughter Subacheva told CNN.

CNN’s Tara John, Oleksandra Ochman, Eoin McSweeney and Gianluca Mezzofiore put the pieces together in an extraordinary report. Read it.

The Germans also gather evidence

Evidence of war crimes comes not only from drones and social media, but also from intelligence.

RELATED: Drone Video Crew Turns The Tables To Conceal Russian Vehicle
This is from a CNN report on German intelligence on intercepted Russian radio communications:

Der Spiegel reported that the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, intercepted Russian radio talk about the killing of civilians in Bucha, and that some of the talk could be directly linked to specific killings in Bucha that have been documented since the investigations surfaced. news of an apparent massacre there.

German intelligence has satellite imagery pointing to the involvement of Russian troops in the Bucha killings, the Washington Post reported, citing an unnamed intelligence official, though the newspaper said radio transmissions have not been linked to that location.

Russia’s disinformation campaign continues

Russia is also apparently trying to tell its own story by hacking the social media accounts of Ukrainian soldiers, according to Meta, the parent company of Facebook.

The tactics the groups use, according to Meta, include impersonating journalists and independent online media outlets to boost Russian talking points, attempting to hack into the Facebook accounts of dozens of Ukrainian soldiers, and conducting coordinated campaigns to try to obtain posts. of critics of Russia. removed from social networks.

Meta said a hacker group known as “Ghostwriter,” which cyber experts believe is linked to Belarus, attempted to hack into the Facebook accounts of dozens of Ukrainian servicemen.

Report on atrocities

Meanwhile, photos and reports from the ground in Ukraine document what is really happening.

Julia Kochetova is a Ukrainian photographer who has stayed behind to cover the war. She told CNN’s Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow on Thursday about how she separates the important mission of documenting atrocities from the pain of witnessing them.

“As a Ukrainian, as a citizen, as a photojournalist, I continue to do my job. But I also had a strong feeling that it is not enough to witness what is happening, the crime against humanity that is happening in my country. but also to document that crime.”

It is important, he said, that Ukrainian journalists bring these images to the world.

“I still firmly believe that we need to highlight local voices because Ukrainian photographers on the ground have the real perspective, the real balance and the real truth. Because we know not only the context, not only the language, that is our war; that’s our country.”

Russia reprimanded by the UN

Perceptions of reality are incredibly important in this war. Ukraine and Western countries have effectively turned most of the world against Russia by showing that the invasion is unjust, illegal and based on lies about Ukraine.

The United Nations voted on Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.

“The General Assembly has sent a very clear message to Russia’s leaders that a government whose military routinely commits horrific rights violations has no business at the UN Human Rights Council,” said Louis Charbonneau, director of the UN at Human Rights Watch, with one calling on the UN and the International Criminal Court to gather evidence and hold trials for war crimes.

“Horrifying images of Bucha have shocked people around the world. The victims and their families deserve to hold those responsible to account.”

Basis for trial for war crimes

Charbonneau’s comments brought up the issue of war crimes and how they can be prosecuted. This conflict will be different because it has been so meticulously documented.

That drone and satellite imagery can immediately refute Russian claims about when the bodies were left in the streets of Bucha is remarkable.

Organizations like Bellingcat, the Netherlands-based investigative journalism group, are using social media and satellites to document war crimes and identify their perpetrators.
A former ICC prosecutor, James Goldston, who is now part of the Open Society Justice Initiative, recently told me in an earlier newsletter that war crimes trials will be built like any other criminal case, from the bottom up, and will be based on the documentation. .

“International criminal investigations often begin with the ‘crime basis’ (authenticated images, witness testimony and other evidence relating to murder, torture, rape or other prohibited crimes that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity) and continue up a chain of military or political authority to prove the guilt of those who ordered, or knew about but failed to prevent/punish, the commission of such crimes,” Goldston said.

Perhaps the hyper-connectedness of the world we live in will help hold accountable those who threaten the world we live in.

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