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Russia plans to target dissidents in Ukraine to be killed or sent to camps, U.S. says

The U.S. has warned the United Nations that it believes Russia has plans to kill large numbers of critics, dissidents and "vulnerable populations" in Ukraine or send them to camps after an expected invasion.

The Kremlin denied the report on Monday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling it an “absolute fiction.”

Ambassador Bathsheba Nell Crocker, the U.S. representative to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, recently made the assertions in a letter to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, the contents of which were first reported Sunday evening by The Washington Post.

NBC News obtained the letter, which says, "We have credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation."

A militant of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic patrols the damaged building of a local school on Feb. 17.Alexander Ermochenko / Reuters

When asked about such a list, Peskov said, “I know that this is fiction, there is no such list.”

Earlier, Crocker said in the letter that the U.S. believes Russia would “likely target those who oppose Russian actions, including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.”

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The document warns of large-scale "human rights violations and abuses" and says protesters would also be met with unjust force.

“We also have credible information that Russian forces will likely use lethal measures to disperse peaceful protests or otherwise counter peaceful exercises of perceived resistance from civilian populations,” the letter says.

It says Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the matter with the U.N. Security Council last week. The U.S. also brought up the concerns in debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Dec. 15.

The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said late Sunday that Macron brokered an agreement in principle that would have President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet about the situation in Ukraine.

More than 150,000 Russian troops are camped outside Ukraine.

White House sources said late Sunday that the potential meeting has not changed its conviction that Russia has plans for an imminent invasion.

Andrea Mitchell

Andrea Mitchell is chief Washington correspondent and chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News.

Dennis Romero contributed.

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