The New York Times, one of the ‘newspapers of record’ in the United States, has confirmed the authenticity of a video circulating on social networks which shows soldiers from the Ukrainian armed forces carrying out summary executions against wounded Russian POWs.
The video footage, posted to the social media application Telegram last week, depicts Ukrainian servicemen standing over dead and wounded Russian troops on a village road outside of Kyiv, when one of the soldiers says, “He’s still alive. Film these marauders. Look, he’s still alive, he’s gasping,” before another soldier approaches the injured POW and shoots him two times at close range.
Following the shots, a voice in the distance can be heard yelling, “leave him the f*ck alone,” before a third and final shot leaves the Russian soldier motionless. The shooter, whose face was not revealed in the video, then replies, “I don’t want to leave him the f*ck alone.”
While the video shows three additional troops near the slain POW—two lifeless and another who can be heard gasping for air—the footage doesn’t capture whether the Ukrainian servicemen took the life of the dying soldier. Additionally, the video depicts another soldier, who like the others had been wearing a white armband to signal his Russian allegiance, with a head wound and his hands bound behind his back, suggesting that he may have been captured before being summarily executed.
The Ukrainian soldiers, wearing blue armbands, were then heard shouting: “Glory to Ukraine.” Per reports from a Ukrainian news agency, the ambush—and subsequent killing of wounded soldiers—had been carried out by the “Georgian Legion,” a group of Georgian volunteers who’ve fought for Ukraine since 2014, and took place near the village of Dmytrivka—seven miles from Bucha—around March 30th, following Russia’s withdrawal from Kyiv.
When asked about the alarming video, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that although he had not yet viewed it, “every report on potential violations of international law should be followed or looked into, and of course, any violation of international law and any war crime is always unacceptable.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the international press that events captured on video would “definitely be investigated.”
The video, unfortunately, is only the latest of several videos presently circulating across social networks which depicts abuse of Russian POWs. In another video that surfaced at the end of last month, three Russian POWs, two of whom had their hands tied behind their backs, are unloaded from a van before being shot in their legs by what appears to be a Ukrainian soldier.
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Following the video’s release and its subsequent circulation across the internet, the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch, has called on the Ukrainian government to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter as soon as possible.
“All the information in the videos that suggests abuse, and maybe worse, of POWs needs to be subject to an effective investigation,” said Aisling Reidy, a senior legal advisor at Human Rights Watch. “It should be possible to verify if the abuse took place, and from there to hold those responsible to account.”
Speaking on the matter, Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said: “I would like to once again remind all our military, civilian, and defense forces that the abuse of prisoners of war is a war crime that has no amnesty under military law and has no statute of limitations.”
Ukrainian soldiers are certainly not the only forces who are alleged to have committed war crimes since Russia’s invasion began well over a month ago. As we reported last week, at the beginning of April accusations of war crimes were leveled against Russian troops after the bodies of more than 400 Ukrainian civilians were discovered in several mass graves and on the streets of Bucha following Russia’s withdrawal from the area. Some of the victims, women, and children among them, were discovered with their hands and feet bound, while the bodies of others showed signs of torture.
Although the Russian government has repeatedly denied that their forces are responsible for the atrocities committed, with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov going so far as to claim that Ukrainian forces staged the alleged war crimes, evidence—including eyewitness testimony, intercepted radio transmissions, and satellite imagery—has emerged which suggests otherwise.
Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer told Putin on Monday that “those responsible for war crimes in Bucha … where dead bodies were found in mass graves and in the streets, and elsewhere would be ‘held to account,'” according to Euronews.