(FiveNation.com)- According to a US official familiar with the findings, the US has gathered intelligence showing that some Russian officials are concerned that Russian forces in the ravaged port city of Mariupol are committing grave human rights violations.
Russian officials are concerned that the abuses will backfire, inciting residents of Mariupol to resist a Russian occupation. The Russians, who were not identified, also feared that the abuses would undermine Russia’s claim that they had liberated the Russian-speaking city, according to the US official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and would only speak anonymously.
According to the intelligence report, the abuses include beating and electrocuting city officials and robbing homes.
As some of the last Ukrainian fighters in the devastated city emerged from the ruined Azovstal steelworks, the new intelligence was declassified and shared by a US official.
The fighters were forced to abandon the last stronghold of resistance in the now-flattened port city by their military, facing an uncertain fate.
Hundreds of fighters had remained in the last bastion of resistance in the devastated city for months, despite relentless bombardment.
The city has been reduced to ruins and has witnessed some of the war’s most ferocious fighting.
After a Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital on March 9 and a week later on a theater serving as the city’s largest bomb shelter, the seaside town drew worldwide attention. The word “CHILDREN” was written in Russian on the sidewalk outside the theater to deter an attack. According to some estimates, nearly 600 people were killed inside and outside the theater.
The scope of the suspected abuse revealed by the US intelligence is unknown, but it comes on the heels of widespread human rights violations in and around Bucha and Kyiv suburbs.
After Russian forces withdrew from Bucha, evidence of the massacre surfaced early last month.
Body bags piled in trenches, lifeless limbs protruding from hastily dug graves, and corpses scattered in streets where they fell were all seen in photos and videos from Bucha.
Meanwhile, the first captured Russian soldier to face war crimes charges in Ukraine pleaded guilty to killing a civilian on Wednesday and faces life in prison.
Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, a Russian tank unit member, pleaded guilty to shooting an unarmed 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through a car window during the war’s early days. According to Ukraine’s top prosecutor, 40 more war crimes cases are being prepared.