The scandal with the video allegedly of the execution of captured Russian soldiers does not subside on the network. The Ukrainian side has already launched an investigation.
A scandal erupted on the social network because of a video that shows how the Russian military surrenders, but then one of them opens fire. After that, already killed Russian soldiers are visible on another recording. However, it is difficult to say with certainty what exactly happened in the video.
What is known
The incident caught on video allegedly took place on November 12 in the village of Makeevka in the Luhansk region. In the Ukrainian Telegram channels on the evening of the same day, a video shot from a drone appeared, showing 12 bodies lying on the ground in the courtyard of a private house. In the commentary to the post, it was about the mortar shelling, under which Russian soldiers were killed. It should be noted that the screenshots from the video were included in the video of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine about the hostilities in the Makeyevka area.
On November 17, another video appeared. The recording was allegedly filmed by the Ukrainian military directly at the scene. It shows that the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are in the courtyard of a private house and are ordered to leave the Russian military hiding in the barn. Ukrainians with weapons ask which of the Russian military is an officer and whether everyone left the building. After that, you can see the appearance, most likely a Russian military man in a darker uniform, who opens fire from around the corner of the house. After that, the operator’s camera falls to the ground, the sound of shots is heard.
Note that the authenticity of the video has not yet been officially confirmed.
Is this a war crime?
The Russian Defense Ministry immediately stated that what happened was “the deliberate and methodical murder of more than 10 immobilized Russian servicemen with shots to the head.” The pro-Kremlin media also accuse the Ukrainian military of violating the surrender procedure, demanding a response from the UN and other organizations.
Killing or injuring a surrendered soldier is a war crime. However, deception when trying to surrender, in particular, the opening of fire by one of the prisoners, is also contrary to the rules of war.
Western experts think the same. The Italian military Thomas Tayner studied the video and in a commentary to the Polish edition rp.pl stated that the main culprit of the incident was a Russian soldier who opened fire on the Ukrainians during the surrender. According to him, “false surrender” is a war crime.
“I watched a video of dead Russian soldiers in Makiivka… Everyone who calls what happened a war crime knows nothing about the surrender procedures. The surrender of enemy units that are larger than yours is practiced by soldiers and is subject to strict procedures. Ukrainian military personnel followed this procedure and thanks to this they survived,” the expert explained.
So, if the enemy wants to surrender, but outnumbers the opponent, the side to whom they surrender orders the enemy soldiers to drop their weapons, raise their hands and go out at gunpoint.
“You force them to lie down on the ground and if someone changes their mind, they will be easily neutralized. The task of the machine gunner is to shoot immediately in case of sudden movements of the enemy,” Tyner emphasized.
“The only one who committed a war crime was a Russian soldier who opened fire. He forced the Ukrainian shooter to do his job. I feel very sorry for the Russians who surrendered, but this was not a war crime,” he concludes.
The expert also added that it is likely that the shooter survived, while the video operator is most likely dead or badly injured.
There will be an investigation
Aleksey Arestovich, adviser to the presidential office, was the first Ukrainian government official to comment on the video. He also pays special attention to the fact that the Russian soldier was the first to open fire, which led to the death of his colleagues.
“If you decide to surrender, and then suddenly draw your weapon, then you are not a hero, but you are committing a war crime contrary to the Geneva Convention. The same applies to other provocations – imitation of surrender or similar things that expose the enemy to fire,” he said. Arestovich.
“We are not experts to say that armed resistance is clearly visible on the video. But the situation is very similar to this. This means that this guy decided to play the hero and framed all his colleagues. He committed a war crime,” the presidential office adviser added.
He argues that, under international law, if a surrenderer begins to behave aggressively, he loses the rights of a prisoner of war.
“For example, a prisoner is being escorted or he is sitting waiting, and here he decides to grab a knife or a machine gun. Why hug and kiss him now? No, he is a soldier of a foreign army who attacked us,” Arestovich added.
He also considers this story to be part of a Russian information-psychological operation so that the Russians would not have the desire to surrender. In addition, Arestovich said that an official investigation of this situation is underway in Ukraine.
The same position was voiced by Commissioner for Human Rights Dmitry Lubinets and Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Olga Stefanishyna.
“Of course, the Ukrainian authorities will investigate this video,” Stefanyshina assured, while calling it “very unlikely” that the released footage proves the accusations of Russia.
Ombudsman Lubinets later wrote that from separate pieces of the video about the incident with the Russian military in the Lugansk region, one can conclude that a war crime was committed by the Russians.
“Using a mock surrender, the Russians committed a war crime – they opened fire to defeat the military Armed Forces of Ukraine. In this case, Russian servicemen cannot be considered prisoners of war, but fight and commit treachery,” Lubinets said.
He insists that returning fire is not a war crime.
“On the contrary, those who want to take advantage of the protection of international law to kill should be punished,” he added.
It should be noted that the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine also called for an investigation into the video.
“We reiterate our call for all such allegations to be duly and promptly investigated by the appropriate authorities,” the mission said.
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