war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Ukraine launches investigation into third Russian execution of Ukrainian prisoners of war in a week

Halya Coynash
As with the killing of over 50 prisoners of war at Olenivka in July 2022, it seems likely that such videos and news of the horrific treachery at Avdiivka are quite deliberately made public

The believed killing of POWs near Robotyne. The prosecutor’s image has marked out the Ukrainians and Russians

The believed killing of POWs near Robotyne. The prosecutor’s image has marked out the Ukrainians and Russians

Satellite footage posted on 20 February appears to show the execution of three Ukrainian prisoners of war near Robotyne (Zaporizhzhia oblast). It comes just two days after evidence emerged of two other executions of unarmed prisoners of war, in one case gravely wounded men whom Russia had promised to provide care for and then exchange.

The footage, posted by DeepState UA is, reportedly, from 18 February when the Russians were advancing on a village from the south and seized part of a Ukrainian stronghold in which three Ukrainian defenders had remained.  At least one of the two men who are seen walking before the Russians shoot them appears to be wounded.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General announced that a criminal investigation has been launched, under Article 438 § 2 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (war crimes), with this to be carried out by the Zaporizhzhia oblast SBU [Security Service].  They point out that the killing of prisoners of war is a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions and a serious international crime. 

In a week that saw Alexei Navalny, Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s most hated opponent and exposer of Kremlin corruption murdered in prison and a Russian military pilot who defected to Ukraine almost certainly killed on orders ‘from above’ in Spain, it is hard to believe that the Kremlin is seeking to conceal such violations, rather the contrary.  

More details were revealed on 19 February by the 110th Brigade about the circumstances in which five Ukrainian prisoners of war were almost certainly killed in cold blood by the Russians despite being wounded and unarmed.  The Brigade explained that there had been no possibility, given the speed and ferocity of the Russian attack, to safely evacuate the men.  They had, therefore, contacted the coordination centre and organizations which conduct negotiations with the enemy regarding exchanges of prisoners, and asked for help for the gravely wounded and unarmed soldiers, in accordance with international law regarding the treatment of prisoners of war.  They assert that the Russian side informed the coordinators that they agreed to evacuate the wounded men and provide them with aid, and later exchange them.  

Instead, five of the wounded Ukrainian defenders were shot and killed, with their bodies shown on a video posted on social media.  As reported, the bodies of three of the men: Andriy Dubnytsky; Heorhiy Pavlov and Ivan Zhytnyk – were recognized by their families.  According to the Brigade’s information, the Russians also killed Oleksandr Zinchuk and Mykola Savosik. It is not known what happened to the sixth man. 

If the Russians did break their word, it would not be for the first time.  They do, after all, have a role model in Vladimir Putin.  Back in August 2014, he pretended to call on the Russian and pro-Russian fighters near Ilovaisk to provide surrounded Ukrainian defenders with safe passage.  A promise was duly given and the Ukrainian soldiers came out, only to be shot dead or gravely wounded. 

The agreements apparently brokered by the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross in May 2022 were supposed to ensure that civilians received safe passage to free Ukrainian territory and that Ukrainian defenders were treated in accordance with international law and eventually exchanged.  A large number of civilians, such as the then 22-year-old Marianna Checheliuk and solo father of three, Yevhen Mezhevyi,  ended up in Russian captivity.  As for the prisoners of war, Russia is acknowledged by international investigators to be systematically torturing and ill-treating them, and has already staged around 300 fake ‘trials’ and huge sentences.  There are also strong grounds for believing that the explosion at the Olenivka prison in July 2022 which killed at least 53 POWs was deliberate.

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