Kremlin pledges to find Ukrainians who executed POWs
Moscow will work to hold accountable the Ukrainian perpetrators of a summary execution of Russian POWs, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman insisted on Monday.
“Russia will do everything possible under international mechanisms to draw attention to this crime and to hold responsible, under the law, those involved in it,” Dmitry Peskov said. Moscow will try to track down the culprits, with the goal of punishing them, he added.
The Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukrainian forces of committing a war crime after a video surfaced on social media on Friday, and claimed that killing POWs was a “widespread practice” for Kiev’s troops.
One video of the incident appeared to show unarmed Russian military personnel surrendering to Ukrainian troops and lying in a row on the ground. Another one showed the same scene, with troops in the same positions, apparently dead from gunshot wounds. Another clip, which did not include audio, appeared to show a Russian soldier coming out of a building and shooting at the Ukrainians.
Dmitry Labunets, the human rights ombudsman for the Ukrainian parliament, claimed the killings were justified because “the Russian service members were not prisoners of war, but active combatants”, who, he believes, only pretended to surrender to the Ukrainians.
The New York Times, which authenticated the videos, gave a different assessment. Rohini Haar, a medical adviser at Physicians for Human Rights, told the newspaper that “killing or wounding a combatant, who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion” was a violation of the laws of international armed conflict. “It looks like most of them were shot in the head,” he said of the victims.
The UN urged Kiev to get to the bottom of what had happened, after Moscow drew public attention to it last week.
Senior Russian officials have condemned Ukraine and its Western supporters for downplaying such atrocities.
Former President Dmitry Medvedev wrote that there can be redemption for the perpetrators, adding that the culprits deserve only the “ultimate punishment,” even if it will take years to materialize. State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin asserted that European nations “should realize that they are supporting a Nazi state,” just like they did in the 1930s, and called for a criminal tribunal for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.