Russia claims Ukraine may execute Crimean POWs
Russia's human rights ombudsman has pledged to investigate information that some Crimean officers, held captive in Ukraine, have been allegedly designated by the Kiev authorities as “unexchangeable” and could even be subject to execution.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Tatiana Moskalkova confirmed that Russia and Ukraine had earlier conducted an exchange of prisoners in the “86 to 86 format.”
She also said she was given a list of some Crimean officers, whom Ukrainian authorities allegedly would not allow to be exchanged, and who, she fears, may face execution.
“I will check, make inquiries with the Ukrainian side, check with international bodies,” Moskalkova said, without specifying the source of her information.
She specified that she would send “footage and evidence that are publicly available today” to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe “so that the whole world knows the truth.”
The ombudsman’s remarks came a few days after her previous statement, when she said that Russia has been fully committed to the Geneva Convention in its treatment of war prisoners, and that captured Ukrainians have been kept in “ideal” conditions.
Meanwhile, since the beginning of the Russian military attack in Ukraine on February 24, Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of inhumane treatment of prisoners of war and of violating the Geneva Convention.
On Monday, Moskalkova’s Ukrainian counterpart, Lyudmila Denisova, citing the wife of one of the country’s National Guard members, claimed that several officers were allegedly captured by the Russian forces on February 24 and held in an unknown location ever since, “starving and not given water.”
“By doing so, the occupying country grossly violates the terms of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, in particular Article 26 of the Convention, which guarantees adequate nutrition for prisoners of war,” Denisova said.
She urged the UN and OSCE to take this information “into account” and to investigate alleged human rights violations by Russia.
The last few days have also seen a new wave of mutual accusations of war crimes. On Saturday, Ukraine distributed graphic footage of multiple corpses lying in the streets of the suburban town of Bucha northwest of Kiev, saying that they were executed by Russian troops. Moscow, which insists that it is not targeting civilians during its ‘operation’ in Ukraine, has rejected those accusations as a provocation and a false flag operation by Kiev.
Russia launched its offensive following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two rebel regions by force.
The West responded to Russia’s attack on Ukraine by imposing hard-hitting sanctions on Moscow. Belarus has also been sanctioned for its alleged support of its neighbor’s actions.