The United Nations is reviewing reports and videos authenticated by New York Times that show Ukraine may have executed Russian prisoners of war, while Ukraine says it will investigate video footage circulated on social media.
This comes after the Russian Defence Ministry accused Kyiv of executing at least 10 prisoners of war, constituting a "war crime". It said no one will be able to paint the deliberate and methodical murder of more than 10 restrained Russian soldiers, who were shot in the head, as a tragic exception. Citing the video, the ministry highlighted this brutal murder of Russian servicemen is neither the first, nor the only war crime.
The UN has also published a report highlighting prisoners of war on both sides had been subjected to "torture and ill-treatment".
Ukraine will Investigate
Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine's deputy prime minister, said Ukrainian authorities will definitely investigate the video. But she added that it is very unlikely that the short, edited snippets show what Moscow claims. Stefanishyna said Ukrainian forces are absolutely not interested in the execution of anybody and are under direct orders to take "as many prisoners of war as we can" so they can be swapped in prisoner exchanges with Russia. "Every potential executed Russian soldier is some Ukrainian that is not able to be exchange, so the spirit and logic is not there," she said.
Russia Demands International Probe
Russian authorities have opened a criminal investigation based on the snippets posted on Russian Telegram channels. However, the videos present a muddled and incomplete picture. Nonetheless, Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russian Foreign Ministry, claimed the footage shows and execution and said Russia demands an international investigation.
The longest snippet is around 36 seconds long but has lots of cuts. It shows a group of about 10 men in full military gear, some lying on the ground and others emerging one by one from an outbuilding with their hands raised. They seem unarmed. The video also shows men, armed wearing flashes of yellow on their arms, legs and helmets. It should be noted that Ukrainian forces often wear bits of yellow, blue or green to identify themselves on the battlefield. Moreover, there are sounds of sustained gunfire.
The incident is claimed by Andrey Marochko, who identifies himself as a Russian officer based in Ukraine's Luhansk region, to have taken place in Makiivka, a village in the occupied region of eastern Ukraine.
The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), in a statement, also called for further investigations. It said they are aware of the video and looking into it. "We reiterate our call that all such allegations should be properly and promptly investigated by respective authorities. Matilda Bogner, head of the HRMMU, revealed that Ukrainian troops are suspected of some abuses as well. "We have received credible allegations of summary executions of persons hors de combat, and several cases of torture and ill-treatment, reportedly committed by members of the Ukrainian armed forces."
These videos and allegations have surfaced after Ukraine tried to push the blame on Russia for the stray missile strike in Poland last week.