Report: Ukrainian soldiers accuse Russian troops of “executing” surrendering soldiers in Russia-Ukraine war

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Human Rights Watch has conducted an investigation into what it describes as “apparent summary executions” by Russian forces against Ukrainian soldiers. The group contends that these actions may constitute war crimes. In a report published on Thursday, HRW detailed five incidents where at least 15 Ukrainian soldiers were allegedly executed while attempting to surrender, with possibly six more facing the same fate between December 2023 and February 2024. Belkis Wille, a senior researcher at HRW, condemned these acts as heinous war crimes, explicitly prohibited under international humanitarian law.

The evidence provided by HRW included analysis of drone footage, social media videos, interviews with Ukrainian soldiers, and media reports. The group highlighted one incident on February 25, where drone footage appeared to show Russian soldiers shooting at Ukrainian soldiers who had surrendered and were lying face down. Russian troops were reportedly instructed to “take no prisoners, shoot everyone.” The investigation also noted instances of torture and misconduct against Ukrainian prisoners by Russian forces.

The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine reported additional allegations of executions and torture of Ukrainian prisoners during the same period. Civilians in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory also faced arbitrary killings, detention, and violations of freedom of expression. Despite these claims, Russia denies committing war crimes in Ukraine and asserts its adherence to the Geneva Conventions. Ukraine, too, has faced accusations of summarily killing Russian troops in the past.

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