Russia accused of executing Ukrainian soldiers by a report from the NGO Human Rights Watch

Russia accused of executing Ukrainian soldiers by a report from the NGO Human Rights Watch
Russia accused of executing Ukrainian soldiers by a report from the NGO Human Rights Watch

A report from the NGO accuses Russia of executing Ukrainian fighters at the front when they had surrendered.

At least 15 Ukrainian soldiers have reportedly been shot dead since December 2023.

These are war crimes, denounces Human Rights Watch.

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More than two years of war in Ukraine

Russia again accused of war crimes. In a report published this Thursday, May 2, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HWR) accused Russian forces of having executed at least 15 Ukrainian soldiers since December 2023 when they had surrendered. “These incidents should be investigated to war crimesdenounced the NGO, basing its accusations on the study of several videos.

“Shoot everyone”

It is in particular from the analysis of drone images published on social networks that the NGO identified three cases of summary executions. “In these cases, the soldiers demonstrated a clear intention to surrender and, since they were no longer participating in hostilities, they were considered hors de combat and could not be targeted under international humanitarian law or the laws of the war”underlines Human Rights Watch.

One of the other incidents spotted by HRW shows at least seven Ukrainian soldiers emerging from a shelter between trees. In the video, they remove their bulletproof vests, one of the soldiers even takes off his helmet and they all lie face down in front of five armed soldiers, identified as Russian by the NGO. In the rest of the video, three Russian soldiers shoot at the surrendered Ukrainian soldiers. Six of them remain face down while the last one tries to enter the shelter. He is immediately shot dead. The event was dated February 25 and located near the village of Ivanivske, Donetsk region.

These few examples are not isolated cases according to the NGO, which cites a latest video published on February 5. Drone footage shows a group of Ukrainians, with it unclear whether they surrender or not. We then hear a voice say in the video, in Russian: “Take no prisoners, shoot everyone”. “The audiovisual analysis of the images allows us to conclude that the drone is Russian”specifies the NGO in its report, which wonders whether these executions were the result of personal initiative on the part of soldiers or orders from their hierarchy.

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In any case, this is not the first time that Russia has been accused of executing surrendering soldiers or prisoners of war. The United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine noted in a report published in March 2023 the execution of 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war by the Russian army or the Wagner group during the first year of invasion in Ukraine .

However, according to international humanitarian law, all parties to an armed conflict must treat the armed forces considered humanely, and in all circumstances. “out of combat” just like soldiers who are arrested and become prisoners of war. “Deliberately killing, mistreating or torturing these forces constitutes a war crime. The order to kill prisoners of war or execute surrendering soldiers rather than capture them, known as ‘ no quarter to be given’, is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law.”, recalls Human Rights Watch. When contacted, the Russian Defense Minister did not react to these allegations.


Aurélie LOEK

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