© Ekaterina Shtukina/SputnikAleksandr Bastrykin, Chair of the Russian Investigative Committee
"Western patrons" appear to want Ukraine to produce a larger body count, top investigator Aleksandr Bastrykin has claimed...

Ukraine's recent deadly attacks on the Russian city of Belgorod had no military purpose, and were designed to maximize harm to civilians, the chair of the Russian Investigative Committee has claimed.

Kiev's forces targeted the city on December 30 and again on February 15, causing dozens of civilian casualties in total. Aleksandr Bastrykin discussed the incidents with TASS news agency on Wednesday, and outlined his organization's efforts to identify and prosecute Ukrainian perpetrators of war crimes.
"We have no doubt that the Ukrainian military is deliberately attacking civilian targets. In both cases peaceful residents, including children, were killed. And there were no military sites near where the strikes happened. Apparently, Western patrons expect more and more victims from the Ukrainian Nazis, including among the civilian population."
Ukrainian officials have not commented on either attack on Belgorod. Some Ukrainian media outlets have suggested that the December rocket volley was launched in retaliation for a Russian missile barrage on Ukraine the previous day.

Kiev has accused Moscow of deliberately attacking civilians, rejecting statements by the Russian Defense Ministry that it never attacks at non-military targets. President Vladimir Zelensky went as far as claiming in 2022 that Russia was conducting a genocide of Ukrainians.

Bastrykin said in the interview that the investigation into alleged crimes committed by the Ukrainian side is a massive endeavor, with some of the atrocities dating back to 2014. So far, Russian courts have convicted over 280 members of the Ukrainian forces, some of whom have been tried in absentia.

The punishments passed down in the conflict reflect the severity of their crimes, the official said. The average prison term is 23 years, while 20 individuals have been sentenced to life behind bars. Some 980 are currently being prosecuted by Russia, including senior members of the Ukrainian government. Of those, over 200 are on Moscow's wanted list.

The Committee's records say over 5,500 people have been unlawfully killed by Kiev's troops, while more than 13,000 civilians have been injured. Ukrainian soldiers can also be victims of such crimes, as was the case with the Il-74 military transport plane, which was downed by Kiev's forces in January while transporting prisoners of war for a planned exchange.

Forensic evidence confirmed that the aircraft was hit by MIM-104A Patriot missiles, the official said. Gene testing resulted in a "definitive conclusion" that the bodies found at the crash site belonged to crew members, military police guards, and 65 Ukrainian POWs.