Honors Theses


Jaro Bilocerkowycz


Political Science

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Honors Thesis


Russia and Ukraine have a long and complicated history. The conflict escalated with Russia’s invasion in February 2022 designed to challenge Ukraine's right to statehood on the dubious pretext they were governed by “extremists” who persecuted the Russian minority. According to treaties, war crimes can be defined as acts committed during armed conflict that violate international humanitarian laws. This research explored the alleged war crimes Russia has committed. There have been systematic and intentional attacks against civilian targets such as hospitals, schools and churches; survivors of torture report they were beaten and waterboarded; victims of sexual violence recount their experiences of rape and forced nudity; and children have been abducted for the purpose of removing their Ukrainian identity. Investigators of war crimes must ensure the evidence has not been altered, which has proved to be difficult as debris was removed for safety concerns, others have buried loved ones, or victims have fled. Furthermore, for Russian officials to be held accountable, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that their actions were for the purpose of furthering the conflict’s goals, and they did so knowingly. Ultimately, the International Criminal Court has begun an investigation, and Ukrainian courts have already convicted Russians for war crimes. Finally, this research identified the implications of these charges and the overall impact of war crimes. The charges may prevent Russian officials from traveling as they can be arrested, may deter other political leaders or combatants from engaging in similar conduct, and may serve as a morale boost for Ukraine. These crimes have caused untold destruction and suffering and left Ukrainians without access to basic necessities. In addition, Russia's aggression has caused Sweden and Finland to break with decades of international neutrality. While Russia denies any wrongdoing, this is important research as it informs, educates, and publicizes war crimes that impact millions of Ukrainians.

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Undergraduate research