Pressure grows on Ukraine to clarify the possible murder of 10 Russian soldiers | International
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The Ukrainian Armed Forces have been compromised by an alleged war crime committed within their ranks. Four videos filmed by their own units, and later released by media related to the Kremlin, show the possible murder of 10 Russian soldiers on the Lugansk front. The Ukrainian Ombudsman, Dmitro Lubinets, affirmed over the weekend that it was a Moscow setup, but the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that what happened will be investigated and calls for kyiv to do so as well. .
The events analyzed occurred on an undetermined date in November, during the Ukrainian advance in the province of Lugansk, in the east of the country. A Ukrainian infantry platoon surrounded 11 soldiers at a farm in the town of Makiivka. The Ukrainian unit filmed part of what happened with the mobile of one of its soldiers. Videos recorded by a drone are added to this document. A large number of Ukrainian units at the front, especially artillery units, use small reconnaissance drones. The Ukrainian platoon entered the courtyard of the farm and 10 Russian soldiers with their hands raised came out of the house. They were ordered to lie on the ground, face down, which they did. Suddenly, another Russian soldier burst from inside the house with a rifle and opened fire on the Ukrainians. This soldier was killed, according to the images captured by the drone.
After an unspecified period of time, the aircraft used by the Ukrainian troops filmed the 10 Russian soldiers who had supposedly surrendered already dead. The bodies, located in practically the same positions in which they previously appeared alive, now appeared in large pools of blood, some with wounds caused by ammunition larger than those caused by an assault rifle. The movement of the Ukrainian unit in the courtyard of the farm was covered by a soldier who was aiming at the Russians at ground level with a large-caliber PK machine gun, according to the images from the drone.
The New York Times published an analysis of the videos on Sunday confirming their veracity and in which several war crimes experts pointed out that more information was needed about the circumstances of the deaths of these soldiers. According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, it would be a war crime if the soldiers had surrendered and laid down their weapons.
The Ukrainian Ombudsman claimed that the Russian soldiers faked their surrender to kill the Ukrainian platoon. “The Russian military could not be considered as prisoners of war, but as combatants committing treason,” Lubinets said. The Russian government has accused Ukrainian troops of committing a war crime.
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The UN Human Rights Office has confirmed to the Reuters and France Presse agencies that it is investigating the event. Olga Stefanishina, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for integration into the European Union, assured the Associated Press on Sunday that her government would investigate what happened, although she ruled out that it was summary executions or a possible war crime. In a statement also sent to said agency, the UN Mission for Human Rights in Ukraine required the country’s authorities to investigate the facts “immediately.”
Washington is also watching the case. “Obviously, we are following this very closely,” Beth Van Schaack, US ambassador for global criminal justice, said Monday in a telephone briefing with journalists, Reuters reports. “It is really important to underline that the laws of war apply to both the aggressor State and the defending State”, she stressed, and “all parties to the conflict must abide by international law or face the consequences”. Van Schaack has also said that the scale of criminality exhibited by Russian forces is “enormous” compared to the allegations against Ukrainian troops. “Russia inevitably responds with propaganda, denial and disinformation, while the Ukrainian authorities have generally acknowledged the abuses and pledged to investigate them.”
Violations on both sides
Most of the complaints about the violation of the laws of war and human rights in Ukraine fall on Russia. UN investigators have confirmed that Russian troops have committed multiple war crimes against soldiers and civilians. The first field work carried out by the UN, focused on the months of February and March, the result of which was presented in a report to the UN General Assembly in October, determined that “the impact on the civilian population in Ukraine is immense. The loss of life is counted in thousands. The destruction of infrastructures is devastating”.
The highest authorities of the European Commission have described as a war crime the Russian offensive against the Ukrainian energy infrastructure, which has left millions of people without resources to spend the winter. “The Russian Armed Forces are responsible for the vast majority of violations [de derechos] identified, including war crimes. Ukrainian forces have also committed human rights violations, including incidents that qualify as war crimes,” said the UN report by the team of independent experts led by Norwegian judge Erik Mose.
Matilda Bogner, head of the UN Mission for Human Rights in Ukraine, presented a report last week which concluded that both sides had tortured prisoners of war. All interviews with the imprisoned fighters took place on Ukrainian-controlled territory because Russia denied the United Nations access to their detention centers. On the Russian side, the mistreatment of prisoners of war seems to be systematic, according to the testimonies collected by the organization; On the Ukrainian side, according to Bogner, her team has received “strong accusations of summary executions of soldiers hors de combat, and several cases of torture and ill-treatment, committed by members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
Bogner stressed that they were still waiting to receive some result from the investigations opened by the Ukrainian authorities to elucidate these cases. The representative of the United Nations added her “concern” about the judicial processes opened in Ukraine against Ukrainian citizens who fight in the Russian army: “In international armed conflicts, the prosecution of combatants for their simple participation in hostilities is prohibited under the law international humanitarian.
Both Ukrainian public opinion and its government have reacted belligerently to any criticism from their allies and human rights organizations. Amnesty International has suffered a smear campaign in Ukraine after it published a report in August warning that the kyiv Armed Forces were putting non-combatants at risk in areas close to the war front by positioning their units next to buildings and facilities where the civilian population lives.
This newspaper has been able to confirm in the months that the conflict lasts that it is not unusual for troops to sleep in residential buildings with civilians, to avoid the risk of resting in the barracks. The October report by independent UN experts also mentioned this: “There are examples of the two sides, albeit to different degrees, of failing to protect civilians or civilian objects by locating military objects within or near densely populated areas.” populated”.
A few weeks before the controversial report, Amnesty International had released an investigation accusing Russia of killing hundreds of civilians in Kharkiv in bombing raids with prohibited weapons.
Another case in which the Ukrainian authorities rejected charges of a possible war crime occurred in March in the town of Mala Rohan, in the Kharkiv province, in which a video showed how three Russian prisoners of war were shot in the legs when they had already been seized. Both the October UN report and another document from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) considered these facts to be true.
The Ukrainian security forces, moreover, are not very transparent regarding the prosecution of the collaborators that Russia has in Ukraine. In the city of Kherson, liberated on the 11th after more than eight months of Russian occupation, testimonies collected last week by EL PAÍS indicate that arrests of possible collaborators with the occupying forces are carried out every day, and even extrajudicial executions. In recent days, images have surfaced of people tied up at various locations in Kherson and exposed to public ridicule, accused of having worked for the enemy. Many of these collaborators are accused of having provided information to the Russian military about people who have disappeared.
Even so, most of the documented abuses are on the Russian side. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has detailed that it is investigating some 500 cases of human rights violations committed by the invading forces in Kherson, from torture, including minors, to summary executions and disappearances. The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office confirmed on Monday that four buildings used by the Russians to torture civilians had been located in Kherson.
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