Kyiv talks of self-defense, UN launches investigation
Were the captured Russian soldiers executed at point blank range?
Cold-blooded execution of defenseless prisoners, or self-defense? Moscow accuses Kyiv of executing the captured soldiers. Kyiv counters that the Russians faked their surrender and planned an ambush. Research confirms this version.
In mid-November, in Ukraine’s reclaimed Luhansk region: one after another, Russian soldiers surrendered and laid them on the ground in a backyard.
For days, Russian media have been reproducing reports that Ukrainian troops are said to have shot Russian POWs at point-blank range. Two 30-second videos are circulating on the Internet showing Russian POWs lying on the ground. One by one, they came out of a hut with their hands up and surrendered. They lie face down on the ground in a backyard. Suddenly, a figure comes out of the hut, a Russian, and opens fire. The video stops abruptly. The second video shows the bodies of Russian soldiers in pools of blood.
Kyiv has denied reports of the alleged execution by Ukrainian soldiers. Rather, his own troops defended themselves against the Russians, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmitro Lubinez said on Telegram on Sunday. According to Lubinez, the Russians only faked their surrender. He does not deny the murder of the prisoners, but suggests self-defense.
This version of events also seems to be confirmed by specialists from the “New York Times”, who have verified the videos with extensive research. They also base their detailed analysis on drone video from the Ukrainian armed forces. The images show the exact location and also the bodies in the backyard. The conclusion of the investigation: “At least 11 Russians, most of whom were lying on the ground, were apparently shot at point-blank range.” This “after one of his comrades-in-arms suddenly opened fire on nearby Ukrainian soldiers.”
The actual act, said to have taken place in Lugansk in mid-November, cannot be seen. But “it could well be that they would all have been captured as prisoners of war and would have survived if the man had not fired,” said Iva Vukusic, an expert on the prosecution of war crimes at Utrecht University.
UN investigates reports
The Russian Defense Ministry has been calling for a “war crimes” investigation since the videos surfaced. Moscow speaks of the “deliberate and methodical murder of more than ten bound Russian soldiers.” A statement from the Moscow Foreign Ministry on Friday accuses Ukraine of “serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
Lubinets, for his part, accuses the Russians of a “war crime”. Clips from a video would clearly show that Russian soldiers “used a mock surrender” to “open fire on Ukrainian forces.”
“We are aware of the videos and we are investigating them,” Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the UN human rights office, said Friday. The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine recently said it had credible reports of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war and civilians on both sides. (kees)