UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Thursday to set up an investigation into possible war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine's Kyiv area and beyond, a move Russia branded as a politicized stunt and refused to attend the extraordinary meeting. The 47-member, Geneva-based Council voted 33-2, with 12 abstentions, including Pakistan, to create an investigation into alleged violations, with a view to holding the perpetrators to account. China and Eritrea voted against the text. "The areas ... which have been under Russian occupation in late February and March have experienced the most gruesome human rights violations on the European continent in decades," Ukraine's First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emine Dzhaparova, told the Council. Russia, which has denied carrying out abuses in what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, left its seat at the Geneva-based Council empty in protest. "Instead of discussing the true causes that led to the crisis in this country and looking for ways to resolve them, the 'collective West' is organising another political rout to demonize Russia," Moscow's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, said in an emailed statement before the vote. Earlier, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told member states Thursday that her team had collected evidence of hundreds of killings of Ukrainian civilians by Russian soldiers and continues to verify allegations that “may amount to war crimes.” “The scale of unlawful killings, including indicia of summary executions in areas to the north of Kyiv, is shocking,” Bachelet said in a video message to the council ahead of the vote. “These killings of civilians often appeared to be intentional, carried out by snipers and soldiers.” More than 1,000 civilian bodies have been recovered in the Kyiv region, she said. In early April, Russian troops retreated from areas around the Ukrainian capital they had captured at the start of the war, leaving bodies in the streets and traumatized residents behind. Bachelet said civilians had been killed while seeking food or water or fleeing in their vehicles, and some unarmed local men had been tortured before being killed. A monitoring mission from the U.N. office visited 14 towns and villages in the areas around Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv last week. “This was the second OHCHR visit to these regions, and it pains me to imagine how many visits will be needed to document only a fraction of the egregious human rights violations that have occurred there,” Bachelet said. The city of Mariupol, where Russian forces are closing in on the last Ukrainian holdout after an 11-week siege, remains inaccessible to international monitors and investigators. Bachelet said she was “shocked at the scale of the destruction” and the breaches of international law by Russian forces in the southern port city, where the U.N. estimates thousands of civilians have died. Bachelet also said her office has verified a dozen cases of sexual violence across the country and is looking into more allegations. Most of the victims cited are women and girls, she said, though accounts of men and boys experiencing sexual violence have begun to emerge. According to the U.N. Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, at least 100 children have been confirmed killed in the fighting in Ukraine in the past month, although it believes the actual figure is much higher. “More children have been injured and faced grave violations of their rights, millions more have been displaced. Schools continue to be attacked and used for military purposes and water and sanitation infrastructure impacted,” UNICEF’s deputy executive director, Omar Abdi, told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. China said that it voted against the measure because it was “neither balanced nor objective" and would only serve to escalate tensions. Russia’s ambassador in Geneva also accused Western nations of “organizing to demonize Russia,” in a statement.