As reported by the Associated Press, two weeks into the invasion, Russian forces began an assault against a nursing eastern region of Luhansk, which caused dozens of elderly, infirm patients -- many of whom were bedridden -- to be trapped inside without any water or electricity.
The assault on March 11 caused a fire that then spread rapidly throughout the facility, which suffocated anyone who was unable to move. While a small number of patients and staff managed to escape into a nearby forest and found some assistance after walking about five miles in inclement weather, most of the others died.
In the end, Ukraine accused Russia of the atrocity in which 50 vulnerable civilians were killed in an attack on the eldercare facility near the village of Stara Krasnyanka that was especially brutal and completely unnecessary.
But according to a new United Nations report, it appears as though Ukrainian forces are about as responsible for the atrocity.
"A few days before the attack, Ukrainian soldiers took up positions inside the nursing home, effectively making the building a target," the report found. "At least 22 of the 71 patients survived the assault, but the exact number of people killed remains unknown, according to the United Nations."
"The report by the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights doesn’t conclude the Ukrainian soldiers or the Russian troops committed a war crime. But it said the battle at the Stara Krasnyanka nursing home is emblematic of the human rights office’s concerns over the potential use of “human shields” to prevent military operations in certain areas," the AP reported.
In the aftermath of the attack on the Stara Krasnyanka, analysts are getting a much clearer picture of how both countries moved rapidly to establish a narrative that the other side was to blame for the tragedy. It also serves to demonstrate how fast events unfold on the ground, though initially they are hidden in the confusing fog of war. It is in Ukraine's interest to paint Russia always as the brutal aggressor and its people as victims because that helps ensure billions in Western aid and military equipment will continue rolling in.
That said, Moscow's troops frequently shell apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, theaters, malls and other civilian population centers indiscriminately, and those attacks are what has caused the bulk of civilian casualties. Kyiv, Washington and their allies have called such incidents war crimes and have sought to have those responsible for them brought to justice.
However, as the AP reported, "Ukraine also must abide by the international rules of the battlefield." It added: "David Crane, a former Defense Department official and a veteran of numerous international war crime investigations, said the Ukrainian forces may have violated the laws of armed conflict by not evacuating the nursing home's residents and staff."
"The bottom-line rule is that civilians cannot intentionally be targeted. Period. For whatever reason," Crane said. "The Ukrainians placed those people in a situation which was a killing zone. And you can't do that."
Meanwhile, a leading Russian figure warns that NATO and the U.S. are sleepwalking towards nuclear war with Russia.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted in a statement earlier this week that the United States and its NATO allies are now teetering on the edge of war with her country as it is, and if something were to ‘jump off,’ at least some U.S. officials believe that the conflict will involve nuclear weapons.
"After provoking an escalation of the Ukrainian crisis and unleashing a violent hybrid confrontation with Russia, Washington and its allies are dangerously teetering on the brink of an open military confrontation with our country, which means a direct armed conflict between nuclear powers. Clearly, such a confrontation would be fraught with nuclear escalation," she said in a statement, which was published by Russian news agency Tass.