The Russian Defense Ministry has accused the Ukrainian military of executing Russian soldiers who surrendered. The accusation was made on the basis of a video published in Telegram channels. Its authenticity has not yet been confirmed. Ukrainian authorities have not yet commented on the footage, mind.ua reports.
In a statement to Reuters, Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office, said: “We are aware of these videos and are looking into them.”
She said allegations of executions of prisoners of war “must be promptly, fully and effectively investigated and all those responsible brought to justice.”
The incident caught on video took place on or before Saturday, November 12, in the village of Makiivka on the front line in the Luhansk Oblast.
In the evening of that day and on November 13, Ukrainian channels posted drone footage showing the bodies of Russian soldiers lying on the ground in the yard of a village house.
The social media posts that accompanied the footage referred to a mortar attack that killed Russian soldiers, and the images were also included in a video by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense about the fighting in the Makiivka area.
However, pro-Russian media outlets claim that members of the Ukrainian 80th Airborne Brigade carried out an extrajudicial execution of the Russian soldiers.
On November 17, other footage of the same incident appeared, this time filmed by Ukrainian soldiers directly at the scene. They were in the yard of a farm and ordered the Russian soldiers in the barn to come out.
They point their guns at the soldiers and ask who is an officer and if everyone has left the building.
The footage also shows a soldier in a darker uniform suddenly opening fire on the Ukrainians while other captured Russians lie on the ground. After that, the camera falls to the ground, the sound of shots is heard.
Writing on his Telegram channel, Israel Defense Forces officer, military expert Yigal expresses another version. The footage, he writes, shows that the man in the uniform of the Russian army, who was the last to leave the house, decided not to lay down his weapon, but opened fire in the direction of the soldiers of the Armed Forces.
“In this situation, the return fire of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is more than justified, since no one knows who of those who surrendered has hidden weapons and grenades. It is not an execution, the occupier who opened fire destroyed his unit himself,” Levin said.
Military expert Thomas Theiner noted the same – that the last Russian coming out of the shed opened fire at the Russian machine gunner, who had no choice but to own fire, killing the other Russians in the crossfire.
I looked at the footage of the dead russian soldiers in #Makiivka… it's the last russian soldier's fault all of them died.
1) Ukrainians surrounded a russian squad in a shed
2) Ukrainians set up a machine gun 10 m from the shed's door and told the russians to surrender
— Thomas C. Theiner (@noclador) November 18, 2022
While the Geneva Conventions protect POWs, feigning war surrender, perfidy, is a war crime in itself.
Article 37 of the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 says:
“It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy.
Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy.
The following acts are examples of perfidy:
(a) The feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender …”
1/ Video has emerged of Ukrainian soldiers apparently opening fire on a group of surrendered Russian prisoners, killing all of them, after an unsurrendered Russian opened fire on the Ukrainians. Is this a war crime? Here's why it may be in a grey area. ⬇️https://t.co/caxJyHbaoj
— ChrisO_wiki (@ChrisO_wiki) November 18, 2022
Earlier this week, the UN said it had spoken to Ukrainian prisoners of war captured by Russia who reported torture and ill-treatment. The organization also said it had documented cases of ill-treatment of Russian prisoners of war in Ukrainian facilities.