Kyiv accuses Russian forces of shooting surrendering Ukrainian soldiers


  • World
  • Sunday, 03 Dec 2023

FILE PHOTO: Members of Ukraine's National Guard Omega Special Purpose unit fire a mortar toward Russian troops in the front line town of Avdiivka, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine November 8, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Kyiv officials accused Moscow of committing a war crime after a grainy video on social media appeared to show several soldiers shooting two surrendering military personnel who emerged from a dugout at gunpoint.

The unverified video shows one soldier coming out of a foxhole on the battlefield with his hands up and then lying on the ground. A second soldier stumbles out and also lies down. The Russian troops then appear to open fire and the video ends.

The Ukrainian General Prosecutor's Office said: "The video shows a group of people in Russian uniforms shooting, at point-blank range, two unarmed servicemen in the uniform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who were surrendering."

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity, date or location of the video clip. The Russian defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia denies committing war crimes during its 21-month-old war in Ukraine. Kyiv says Russia regularly violates the rules of war.

"The execution of those who surrender is a war crime!" Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said late on Saturday on the Telegram messaging platform.

"Today, a video of the execution by Russian servicemen of Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered as prisoners appeared online. This is another violation of the Geneva Conventions and disrespect for international humanitarian law."

Deepstate, a popular Ukrainian war blog which posted the video clip, said the footage was filmed near Stepove on the Avdiivka front line in Donetsk region.

The General Prosecutor's Office said the incident took place in Pokrovsk district, a large area of the Donetsk region that runs close to Avdiivka, site of some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks.

Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Tavria military command, told the Ukrainska Pravda news website that the video was "glaring confirmation" that Russia violates the rules of warfare on a daily basis.

In March, a Ukrainian sniper was seen being shot dead in a video after defiantly saying "Glory to Ukraine," or "Slava Ukraini," a phrase that has taken on special significance as a common public greeting since the start of the war.

(Reporting by Maria Starkova in Lviv and Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; editing by Tom Balmforth and Bernadette Baum)

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