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Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘war crimes’ after ‘execution’ of captured troops

Ukraine has launched an investigation into the “execution” of its unarmed soldiers by Russian forces despite the soldiers signalling their intention to surrender.

Kyiv accused Russia on Sunday of committing a “war crime” after a short video posted on Telegram on Saturday showed the two men coming out of a shelter, one with his hands above his head, before lying on the ground in front of another group of soldiers.

“The video shows how a group of people in Russian uniforms shoot at close range two unarmed servicemen in the uniform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who surrendered as prisoners,” the public prosecutor’s office in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk wrote.

“Investigators and prosecutors have started an investigation.

“The killing of prisoners of war is a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions and is classified as a serious international crime,” the public prosecutor’s office said of the video, the authenticity of which has been verified by the AFP news agency.

The public prosecutor’s office in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk said that according to “preliminary data”, the images were filmed near the village of Stepove, close to Avdiivka, an eastern town where fighting is raging.

The Ukrainian army’s strategic communications centre said on Saturday it possessed “confirmed information” that the video showed the “execution” by Russian forces of “unarmed soldiers”.

War crimes

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets denounced the events as a “war crime”.

“Today, a video of the execution by Russian servicemen of Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered as prisoners appeared online! This is another violation of the Geneva Conventions and disrespect for international humanitarian law!” he wrote on Telegram.

The speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, further accused Russian forces of violating the rules of war, while Ukrainian army officials urged the international community to hold Russia’s military leadership “accountable”.

There was no official reaction from Moscow on the video, as Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported on Sunday that Lubinets, the human rights ombudsman and Russia’s Commissioner for Human Rights Tatiana Moskalkova plan to conduct several mutual visits to prisoners of war.

“Russian military personnel will be visited on the Ukrainian side. Ukrainian military personnel will be visited on the Russian side. There will be several of these visits, we have a schedule,” RIA quoted Moskalkova as saying.

There have been numerous accusations since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine of Russian forces committing war crimes.

In March, another video showing a Ukrainian soldier being shot dead after shouting “Glory to Ukraine” drew condemnation.

At that time the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said his office had documented numerous violations of international humanitarian law against prisoners of war.

Overnight bombardment

Meanwhile, Russia launched at least 12 drones and a cruise missile at Ukraine on Saturday night, with air defence systems destroying 10 drones before they reached their targets, according to Kyiv’s air force.

The cruise missile was not destroyed but did not reach its target, the air force said on Sunday, without giving further details.

The statement also did not clarify what happened to the two drones that were not destroyed.

“10 out of 12 is a perfect score. These are good results that we see every day,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat told national television.

The Iranian-made Shahed drones were headed towards Ukraine’s northwest, the air force said. Most were downed in the Mykolaiv region in Ukraine’s south.

The air force’s report could not be independently verified and there was no immediate comment from Russia.

Regional officials confirmed the attack but said they had no information on casualties or damage.

Ukraine is preparing for new and intensified waves of Russian attacks on infrastructure as winter approaches.

Last winter, about 10 months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow made waves of attacks on power stations and other plants linked to the energy network, prompting rolling blackouts in widely separated regions.

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