Video of alleged POW executions angers and inspires Ukrainians


A war-weary man smoking a cigarette, holding a Ukrainian flag. He is standing over a ditch in the woods, looking at the camera.

“Okay, now start videoing,” an off-screen voice says in Russian.

“glory to Ukraine!” Smoker answers in Ukrainian.

After a split second: Gunshots. The smoker falls to the ground, dead. Two voices off camera curse him in Russian.

The pixelated clip, just 12 seconds long, appears to show the execution of a Ukrainian prisoner of war. As it went viral on Monday as it spread across social media, it has ignited fierce anger in Ukraine, where officials and other public figures have said it shows the brutality of invading Russian forces and major violations of Geneva. reinforces the need for war crimes investigations. conference.

What rights do prisoners of war have under international law?

The Washington Post has not independently verified the video. Who created and posted it – when, where and under what circumstances – is not clear. The footage was shared widely on Monday among pro-Kremlin Telegram accounts, including one linked to Task Force Rusich, a unit fighting alongside the mercenary group Wagner in Ukraine, which has been designated by the US Treasury as a “neo- Nazi paramilitary group”.

In a video posted to his Telegram account late Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Ukrainians to repeat the man’s patriotic last words: “Slavy ukreni,” which means “Glory to Ukraine.”

“I want us all together, in unity, to answer his words: ‘Glory to the hero! Glory to the heroes! Glory to Ukraine!'” Zelensky said. “We will find the murderers.”

“It’s another thing to kill a prisoner of war [Russian] War crime,” Andrey Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, tweeted the same day.

On Tuesday, a Ukrainian military unit said they had identified the man killed as one of their own: Timofey Shadura, 40, who was believed to have been captured by Russian forces near Vuhlader in Donetsk last month. was taken.

A woman identified as Shadura’s sister told the BBC that her brother appeared in the video as the man.

What are war crimes, and is Russia committing them in Ukraine?

“My brother would definitely be able to face the Russians like this,” the woman said, the BBC reported.

So far, the Russian authorities have not given an official response. But in a follow-up post on Telegram on Tuesday, the paramilitary group Rusich mocked Russians criticizing the video, saying it was “normal” and that the Russian military was “doing what it should.”

“To defeat the enemy – you need to kill the enemy!” the group wrote.

Russia, as well as Ukraine, are among nearly 200 countries that are parties to the Third Geneva Convention, which outlines the rights of prisoners of war. The Convention calls for “humane” treatment of prisoners captured during conflict. Their execution is expressly prohibited.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter that the video was further proof that the war was “genocide” and called on the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to launch an investigation. “Criminals must face justice,” wrote Kuleba.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andrey Kostin wrote on Telegram that the Security Service of Ukraine would also investigate the murder as a criminal matter under domestic laws.

Several war crime allegations have been filed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 last year. Last month, Kostin said Ukraine has recorded more than 65,000 war crimes committed by Russian forces since the conflict began.

Ukrainian forces have also been accused of violating the Geneva Conventions, including publishing footage of prisoners of war at the start of the conflict.

Last year, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishina promised to launch an investigation into footage that appeared to show the country’s military executing Russian soldiers who had surrendered.

One Year of Russia’s War in Ukraine

Pictures of Ukraine: Every Ukrainian’s life has changed – in ways both big and small – since Russia launched its full-scale invasion a year ago. They have learned to survive and support each other in extreme conditions, in bomb shelters and hospitals, in destroyed apartment complexes and ruined markets. Scroll through portraits of Ukrainians depicting a year of loss, resilience and fear.

Battle of Attrition: Over the past year, the war has changed from a multi-front offensive involving Kiev in the north, to a struggle of largely concentrated attrition with expanding territory to the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian armies and see where the fighting is concentrated.

One year apart: Russia’s invasion, along with Ukraine’s martial law preventing fighting-age men from leaving the country, have forced millions of Ukrainian families to make harrowing decisions about balancing security, duty and love , once interconnected life has become difficult to recognize. Here’s what a train station full of goodbyes looked like last year.

Deepening Global Divide: President Biden has promoted the Western alliance built during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look reveals that the world is far from united on the issues raised by the Ukraine war. There is plenty of evidence that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions have not deterred Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.

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