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Russian military used Ukrainian POWs as human shields, Prosecutor’s Office confirms

Zaporizhzhia Regional Prosecutor’s Office initiates a criminal investigation following RFE/RL’s release of footage on 13 Dec showing unarmed Ukrainian POWs being led at gunpoint by Russian troops as shields in an attack on Ukrainian positions.
Screenshot from the video. Credit: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office

An investigation has been initiated under the guidance of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Prosecutor’s Office into allegations that the Russian army used Ukrainian prisoners of war as “human shields” during an attack on Ukrainian defense positions.

“Using POWs as a ‘human shield,’ the Russian army attacked the positions of Ukrainian defenders – an investigation has been started,” Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office stated.

This follows the emergence of video footage, published by RFE/RL on 13 December, showing Russian forces leading unarmed Ukrainian POWs under gunpoint toward Ukrainian positions, using them as a cover.

Preliminary data indicate that Russian military personnel audaciously violated international humanitarian law by employing Ukrainian POWs as live shields in combat operations against Ukrainian Defense Forces in the Zaporizhzhia direction. These actions, if confirmed, would represent a flagrant disregard for the norms and customs of war, prompting a criminal proceeding under Article 438 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.

The investigation is under the supervision of the Office of the Prosecutor General, with investigative actions in the criminal proceedings conducted by the State Security Service of Ukraine in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has recorded over 110,000 war crimes cases. On 11 December, the UK government announced an additional £3.7 million ($4.6 million) package to aid Ukraine in documenting, investigating, and prosecuting war crimes. This funding is a significant boost to Ukraine’s efforts to bring justice to victims of Russian atrocities.

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