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The Times: Ukraine says Russia operates black market of prisoners of war

Ukrainian POWs
Ukrainian POWs exchanged on 31 January 2024. Photo: Telegram/Zelenskyy Official
The Times: Ukraine says Russia operates black market of prisoners of war

Russian forces are operating a black market of prisoners of war, Ukrainian authorities have told The Times.

According to the spokesman of Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Petro Yatsenko, Chechen paramilitary groups are actively buying up captured Ukrainians from other Russian military factions to exchange them for their own soldiers.

As per sources, Chechen units are likely turning to the black market due to their current engagement in policing or logistical activities in the rear areas of Ukraine. In these areas, opportunities to capture Ukrainian POWs for potential exchanges where they could be swapped for Chechen fighters are limited.

While the Geneva Convention doesn’t explicitly prohibit the exchange of POWs, the practice is likely to violate the treaty, which broadly says that “no special agreement shall adversely affect the situation of prisoners of war.”

The exact number of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers captured during the war remains currently unknown. However, more than 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers are believed to be in captivity in Russia as prisoners of war.

The 2023 UN report found that many Ukrainian POWs in Russian captivity had been subjected to torture or were ill-treated to extract military information and intimidate or humiliate them. Forms of torture by Russian captors included beating, electrocution, or, in several cases, being shot or stabbed in the legs.

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