Ukraine has launched a probe following the emergence of footage that appears to show Russian forces shooting two Ukrainian soldiers after they had already surrendered.
The events filmed in the video, published on the messaging app Telegram on December 2, are believed to have happened just a few kilometres northwest of Avdiivka, a city Moscow’s troops have been trying to encircle since October 10.
Ukrainian prosecutors claim the video shows a “group of people in Russian uniforms” shooting the Ukrainians at close range. The two soldiers looked unarmed, it is also claimed.
The killing of prisoners of war, they continued, qualifies as a “grave international crime” and is a “gross violation” of the Geneva Conventions regulating the conduct of armed conflicts.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office announced on Sunday that it has launched a pre-trial investigation into the “violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder”.
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Preliminary data suggested the video was filmed near the small village of Stepove, in the partially Russian-held region of Donetsk, the Ukrainian prosecutors said.
Kyiv has also appealed to the international community to “condemn Russia’s actions and bring to justice the military leadership of the aggressor country”.
The spokesperson of the Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces, Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun, announced on December 3 that his country’s authorities will produce evidence of the war crime to the appropriate international institution.
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The Telegram channel that first shared the video, DeepStateUA, claimed the Ukrainian soldiers surrendered after running out of ammunition.
The footage itself reportedly appears to show one Ukrainian soldier coming out of a dugout to surrender while holding his hands on his head as what are said to be Russian troops point their weapons at him.
The Ukrainian soldier is then reportedly seen lying face down on the ground while another comes out from the dugout.
Seconds later, the purportedly unarmed Ukrainians appear to be shot and killed.
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On Sunday, the head of Avdiivka’s military administration, Vitaliy Barabash, claimed without providing evidence to Ukraine’s Freedom TV channel that those who had reportedly killed his country’s soldiers had been since “liquidated” in a Ukrainian attack.
The video has not been independently verified and Russia has not yet commented on its content. A few Russian military bloggers have dismissed the footage and the allegations against Moscow’s troops linked to it, US think tank ISW reported.
Since Russia began its illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow and Kyiv have been accusing each other of violating the Geneva Conventions.
Russian troops have so far been accused of more than 100,000 alleged war crimes during this conflict – including murder and torture of civilians, attacks on civilian infrastructures and the relocation of Ukrainian children to Russia.
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