According to the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russian forces have developed a plan to “engineer a more pliant population” in regions of Ukraine, including forcible relocation of civilians.
In his speech on Thursday, OSCE Ambassador Michael Carpenter stated that the US believes Russian forces have “relocated at least several thousand Ukrainians for processing” in so-called “filtration camps,” as well as “at least tens of thousands more to Russia or Russia-controlled territory.”
Carpenter’s description of the detention facilities included an explanation of why they are known as filtration camps.
“Numerous eyewitness accounts indicate that ‘filtering out’ involves beating and torturing individuals to determine whether they owe even the tiniest allegiance to the Ukrainian state,” he said. “Those found to have such an allegiance, according to these reports, are transferred to the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic,’ where they face a bleak fate.”
Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk, both bordering Russia, have seen a relentless military offensive, with troops tearing through small towns on their way to the strategic cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.
Carpenter cited a Russian processing survivor who stated that those who did not pass the “filtration” process were shot. He also mentioned satellite images of some of these makeshift encampments in southeastern Ukraine.
“Victims describe an invasive and humiliating inspection process at these facilities,” he said. “Russia’s soldiers photograph victims from various angles, fingerprint and physically examine them for tattoos, examine their cell phones and download their contacts and data onto devices, and record their biographic information in various databases. Some victims claim to have been questioned by suspected Russian intelligence officials. Passports, identification documents, and cell phones were all confiscated in some cases by Russian soldiers.”
“As Russia is well aware, forced displacement or transfer of civilians would be a violation of international humanitarian law – but, as we have seen, the Kremlin treats international law with total contempt,” he added.
Carpenter also condemned Russia’s “vicious and brutal military campaign” and claimed that Russian forces are removing elected officials from local offices in his speech on Thursday. He cited “very credible” reports of officials being “kidnapped, interned, disappeared, and sometimes killed.”
“In their place, according to these reports, Russia is substituting its puppets and proxies, who operate in the style of a local mafia, relying on violence and terror,” Carpenter said.
He stated that the US is especially concerned about Kherson, where Russia is said to have installed a pro-Russia “puppet administration” and mandated the use of the Russian currency, the ruble. Carpenter also stated that Russia’s actions have “increasingly indicated” that the country may annex the region.
The announcement comes as Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers that the United States believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a “prolonged conflict in Ukraine.”
Haines believes Putin believes Russia has a “greater ability and willingness to endure challenges” than Ukraine, but he also believes that if his belief does not match the capabilities of the Russian army, the conflict will take a “more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory.”