Russia reveals number of captured Ukrainian POWs
Russia is holding about 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen “who have voluntarily laid down their arms,” including five brigade commanders who “were fighting against the Donbass population,” the head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin announced on Tuesday.
In an interview with RT, Bastrykin said that investigators were working with prisoners of war and were getting “many details about the circumstances of the Ukrainian regime’s crimes.”
“Everyone sees that Ukrainian servicemen, no matter how it sounds in the Western media and propagandist social media, prefer to surrender when a good opportunity arises. They understand the futility of resistance,” Bastrykin claimed.
The testimonies of those captured have provided the Russian authorities with information about the Ukrainian forces’ work with foreign advisors, as well as about foreign mercenaries, the Investigative Committee’s head revealed.
“Based on the available data, criminal cases have been initiated against 75 mercenaries who are participating in hostilities on the side of Ukraine. We know that they came from the UK, the US, Norway, Canada, Georgia and other countries,” Bastrykin said.
As an example, he mentioned a Georgian national who is said to have created an armed formation called Georgian National Legion on Ukrainian territory, which included at least 24 of his compatriots as mercenaries.
“Some of them also surrendered and were questioned by investigators,” Bastrykin added.
Commenting on the reports of alleged torture of Russian prisoners of war by the Ukrainians, Bastrykin said that “a number of such crimes” are currently being investigated. He cited two examples of such incidents: first, when the Ukrainians allegedly “systematically used physical violence” against several Russian servicemen whom they captured in Zaporozhye Region and “illegally held” for ten days.
“They tried to beat information out of them about the progress of the special military operation,” Bastrykin explained.
The second incident involved two groups of Russian soldiers who were captured in the Nikolayev Region and were allegedly also subject “to physical and psychological violence.”
“There are always chances to determine those involved, because there are no crimes without traces,” Bastrykin underlined, adding that the Investigative Committee was coordinating its efforts with officials from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
Ukrainian authorities had previously stressed that the abuse of prisoners is a war crime and would not be tolerated.
“We are a European army, and we do not mock our prisoners… I would like to remind all our military, civilian and defense forces once again that the abuse of prisoners is a war crime that has no amnesty under military law and has no statute of limitations,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Alexey Arestovich said in March, commenting on a video that seemed to show Russian POWs being tortured by members of Ukrainian forces.
Since the beginning of the Russian offensive, Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of multiple atrocities against both civilian populations and prisoners of war.
On Monday, the Ukrainian Human Rights ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova took to Telegram to accuse the Russian “occupiers” and “racists” of torturing Ukrainian soldiers captured in Mariupol. According to Denisova, the Ukrainians were “threatened with murder, beaten and humiliated” and deprived of water and medical assistance.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since 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 republics by force.