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Russians likely executed six wounded Ukrainian POWs in Avdiivka

Relatives have identified the bodies of shot Ukrainian soldiers in Avdiivka as wounded soldiers who were taken as POWs
Zenit Executed Ukrainian POWs Avdiivka
Doors to the basement at the Zenit plant in Avdiivka, where the bodies of six Ukrainian POWs, likely executed by Russians, were shown by Russian war blogger WarGonzo
Russians likely executed six wounded Ukrainian POWs in Avdiivka

Russian troops likely executed wounded Ukrainian soldiers who were taken captive during the defense of Avdiivka, video evidence and relative testimonies suggest.

The executions follow a pattern of Russian contempt for the Geneva Conventions: reports of executions of Ukrainian POWs, including by such gruesome methods as castration, have sadly become commonplace.

The six wounded POWs were left behind in the Zenit plant, which was nearly fully encircled by Russian troops already for several days (striped in the tweet below). Orders to retreat from Zenit were given on 16 February, but it was already too late for many Ukrainian troops.

The OSINT project DeepState reconstructed the timeline of events:

  • The danger of encirclement of Zenit started when Russians made an unexpected assault through an underground pipe into the Ukrainians’ rear on 18 February;
  • Despite the looming danger, orders to retreat were not given until 13 February. It was already too late: many groups who tried to break through were shot by Russians;
  • Six POWs, five of whom were wounded and could not walk, waited to be evacuated on 15 February, but in vain. The evacuation did not come;
  • Russians entered Zenit around 12:00 PM on 15 February;
  • On 16 February, Russian pro-war Telegram blogger WarGonzo shared a video showing corpses of shot Ukrainian soldiers in Zenit.

It is likely that the men were shot at once on 15.02. One of the soldiers managed to write “no bread, no f*ck, and half a bottle of water left” before he died. In the footage of the bodies, one of the soldiers was still holding that bottle after his death, DeepState notes.

Relatives of three POWs confirmed that their husband, son, and brother were among the shot bodies seen in the video to the Ukrainian media project Slidstvo.info. As well, one of the soldiers from the 110th brigade who managed to evacuate earlier confirmed that his comrade was among the shot POWs.

Kateryna, the sister of one of the likely executed POWs, recalled a conversation that her son-in-law had with her wounded brother as Russians entered the basement in Zenit.

“My brother said that the commanders had agreed that the Russians would take them, because our guys could not reach them,” Kateryna says.

During this video conversation, Kateryna’s son-in-law saw the Russians enter the basement and tell everyone to get out:

“And my son-in-law tells us: I see the Russians coming in and saying: “Get up, get out, we’re not going to carry you.” My son-in-law was still trying to talk to him, and they told my brother to turn off the phone.”

Avdiivka executed Ukrainian POWs
Screenshot of a call between “Jungo,” a wounded Ukrainian POW likely executed by Russians in Avdiivka, talking with his sister Kateryna

On 17 February, Ukrainian troops were given orders to retreat from Avdiivka, a stronghold that they had held since 2014 amid a looming encirclement from the city. Ukraine says Russia endured massive losses of over 47,000 troops to take control of the city.

However, Ukraine also faced losses during the retreat, and many soldiers were taken captive, although it is unclear how many. Questions continue to be raised over whether commanders should have given orders to retreat earlier.

“A series of mistakes and delays in taking decisive action led to this tragedy. And the enemy has once again proved that it does not care about all the rules of war,” DeepState notes about the execution of the POWs.

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