Rising execution rate of Ukrainian POWs indicates shift in Russian policy – prosecutor

Execution of Ukrainian prisoners of war. Screenshot: Zaporizhzhia Oblast Prosecutor's Office
Execution of Ukrainian prisoners of war. Screenshot: Zaporizhzhia Oblast Prosecutor's Office

Since the end of November 2023, prosecutors have recorded an increase in the number of shootings of Ukrainian prisoners of war (PoW) by Russian invaders.

Source: Yurii Bielousov, Head of the Department of Combating Crimes in the Context of the Armed Conflict in the Office of the Prosecutor General, on the air of Suspilne. Sprotyv (Resistance)

Details: As of now, the Prosecutor's Office is conducting 19 criminal proceedings over the murder of 45 Ukrainian PoWs. These are only the figures that are currently known to law enforcement agencies.

Quote: "We see an upward trend in these cases starting from the end of November 2023. And this year, it's becoming prevalent. These are mainly Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts. For us, this is evidence of a change in policy, and it is clearly initiated by the senior leadership of the Russian Armed Forces. Because there cannot be such a large number of cases by chance."

Details: The representative of the Prosecutor General's Office added that social media coverage of such executions is intended to have a mental impact.

Quote: "This is an attempt to intimidate Ukrainians so that they do not resist. And this fits into the general outline of the Russian Federation's policy of subjugating the Ukrainian people. It's an attempt to force Ukrainians to surrender through violence, executions, and deportation of our citizens."

Reminder: 

  • Following reports of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) being shot after their positions were captured, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin cynically stated that Russia "has always adhered to international legal documents and conventions" concerning the treatment of POWs.

  • On 16 February, Ukraine’s forces moved away from the Zenit, a key defence position in the southern part of Avdiivka, to save lives and improve the operational situation.  On Sunday, 18 February, relatives of some seriously wounded Ukrainian soldiers who were taken prisoner after Russian forces captured the Zenit position in Avdiivka recognised their loved ones’ bodies in a video circulating on Russian social media.

  • On 19 February, wounded Ukrainian soldiers who were surrounded in the Zenit defence position were shot by the Russians despite a promise to evacuate them, the 110th Separate Mechanised Brigade named after Marko Bezruchko, which had been defending Avdiivka, reported.

  • On 20 February, a video of the execution of three Ukrainian defenders taken prisoner by Russian army soldiers near the village of Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, was posted online. The Security Service of Ukraine and prosecutors said they were investigating the shooting.

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