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Russian troops execute Ukrainian POWs in southeastern Ukraine

A video filmed by a Ukrainian recon drone revealed a brutal murder of three unarmed Ukrainian soldiers near Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Russian soldiers killing Ukrainian POWs near Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Screenshot from video. Credit: Stanislav Buniatov via Telegram.
Russian troops execute Ukrainian POWs in southeastern Ukraine

Russian soldiers shot Ukrainian prisoners of war in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast (southeastern Ukraine).

The video of the war crime recorded by a Ukrainian reconnaissance drone was posted on Telegram by Stanislav Buniatov, a soldier of the 24th Separate Assault Brigade of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

The video shows Russian invaders shooting three Ukrainian soldiers who were captured during heavy fighting in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, where the Ukrainian counteroffensive was taking place. After the execution of unarmed Ukrainian prisoners of war, one of the Russian soldiers finished off the apparently dead military with a last shot at a close distance.

According to Stanislav Buniatov, the Ukrainian prisoners of war were soldiers of the 117th Separate Mechanized Brigade of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reported that an investigation had been initiated into the violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder according to part 2 of Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The pre-trial investigation is being carried out by investigators of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

According to the investigation, Ukrainian servicemen were captured by Russian troops in December 2023 during the battle near the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.  An hour later, in violation of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the Russians shot the Ukrainian military dead.

This is not the first war crime committed by the Russian military in Ukraine. On 13 December 2023, RFE/RL published video footage showing Russian forces pushing people in the uniform of Ukraine’s Armed Forces under gunpoint toward Ukrainian trenches, using them as human shields. A Ukrainian reconnaissance drone filmed the footage.

In the video, a group of Russian soldiers were walking towards Ukrainian positions with Ukrainian prisoners of war ahead of them near the same village of Robotyne. The Ukrainians were unarmed and held their hands up in the air. The Russians were holding their assault rifles ready for battle and, at some point, started to fire at Ukrainian positions.

Russian soldiers use Ukrainian prisoners of war as human shields.
Credit: RFE/RL.

The Zaporizhzhia Oblast Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation into allegations that the Russian army used Ukrainian prisoners of war as “human shields” during an attack on Ukrainian defense positions. 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.

On 2 December 2023, a video of the shooting of unarmed Ukrainian soldiers by Russian troops emerged on social media. In the video, a group of people in Russian uniforms shot at point-blank range two unarmed servicemen in the uniform of Ukraine’s Armed Forces who surrendered near the village of Stepove in the Donetsk Oblast (eastern Ukraine).

In April 2023, open sources revealed a Ukrainian prisoner of war being beheaded by Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Former Wagner commander Andrei Medvedev, who sought asylum in Norway, confirmed the involvement of the Wagner Group mercenaries in this crime.

A year ago, on 30 December 2023, Russian troops shot dead a Ukrainian prisoner of war, Oleksandr Matsievskyi. On 6 March 2023, a video of Oleksandr Matsievskyi being shot after he shouted “Glory to Ukraine” (“Slava Ukraini“) appeared on social media.

Top-10 Russian genocidal quotes about Ukraine

In a 12-second video, an unarmed Ukrainian soldier was standing in a shallow trench in a winter wood, calmly puffing a cigarette. As he is heard saying “Slava Ukraini,” salvos of automatic weapons from multiple sides are heard and seen shooting the Ukrainian, who collapses. Voices in the Russian language are heard saying, “Die, b*tch.” Before the murder, Oleksandr Matsievskyi was allegedly forced to dig his own grave. In the video, he is in a hole with a shovel behind him.

Oleksandr Matsievskyi and four other Ukrainian soldiers were engaged in a counterattack with superior Russian forces. At approximately 12 pm on 30 December, visual contact and communication with them were lost. Reinforcements could not break through to their position due to continuous mortar fire and heavy enemy small arms fire.

On 29 December, Oleksandr Matsievskyi called his mother. In the last conversation with his mother, Oleksandr said: “Mom, I will never surrender!”

Oleksandr Matsievskyi was a sniper, a soldier of the fire support company of the 163rd battalion of the Territorial Defense of Nizhyn, 119th brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He was killed in the Soledar area in the Donetsk Oblast (eastern Ukraine). Matsievskyi’s body was returned to the government-controlled territory of Ukraine, identified, and buried. He was killed at the age of 42.

Ukrainian artists dedicated murals to Oleksandr Matsievskyi in Rivne (western Ukraine) and the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. A monument to Oleksandr Matsievskyi was erected in Kyiv on 6 December 2023.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy awarded the title Hero of Ukraine to Oleksandr Matsievskyi on 12 March 2023.

UN report accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine: Torture, sexual violence, and murder revealed

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has recorded over 110,000 war crimes cases, including the killing of Ukrainian prisoners of war by Russian troops.

Russians do not only kill unarmed Ukrainian POWs but also torture them in captivity, according to Petro Yatsenko, spokesperson for Ukraine’s coordinating staff on the treatment of prisoners of war. More than 90 percent of the Ukrainian POWs that Ukraine’s coordinating staff on the treatment of prisoners of war interviewed after their return said they were tortured and deprived of adequate food and sleep in Russian captivity, Petro Yatsenko told Politico.

In March 2022, the president of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Federico Villegas Beltrán, announced the establishment of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine. This commission investigates all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) during the Russian all-out war against Ukraine.

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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