Ukrainians vow to probe video that appears to show soldiers shooting Russian captives in legs

Ukrainian forces take cover behind military armored vehicles as they advance to the battlefield on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 28th, 2022. Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

  • Ukraine’s government said it is investigating a viral video that appears to show Ukrainian troops shooting captive Russians.
  • “The government is taking this very seriously,” said Oleksiy Arestovich, an advisor to the Ukrainian president.
  • The commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces claimed the video was staged by Russians.
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Ukraine’s government said it is investigating a viral video circulating on social media that appears to show Ukrainians shooting Russian prisoners of war in the legs and beating them, according to multiple reports.

“The government is taking this very seriously and there will be an immediate investigation,” Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of the video, British newspaper The Times reported on Tuesday.

Aristovych added, “We are a European army and we do not abuse our prisoners. If this turns out to be real, this is absolutely unacceptable behaviour,” according to The Times.

In a Telegram post, Aristovych warned Ukrainian troops and militias that “the abuse of prisoners is a war crime that has no amnesty under military law and has no statute of limitations.”

“I remind everyone that we are the European army of a European country,” he wrote. “We treat prisoners according to the Geneva Convention, no matter what your personal emotional motives.”

The viral video began making its rounds on pro-Russian media channels and on social media on Sunday, according to The Washington Post, which reported that the clip was filmed in the village of Malaya Rohanin in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine.

It emerged online just two days after Ukrainian forces said on Telegram that they had taken back the village from Russian troops, The Post reported.

The five-minute video purportedly shows Ukrainian forces mistreating captive and bound Russian troops who were then shot in the kneecaps at point-blank range.

The apparent prisoners of war can be seen lying tied up and bloodied on the ground at one point in the video.

In the clip, a voice can be heard accusing the Russian soldiers of “slamming” Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, The Post reported, noting that everyone in the clip speaks Russian. Much of the Ukrainian population speaks Russian, and The Post said that the apparent Ukrainian troops were speaking with a Ukrainian accent.

General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, claimed in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday that the video was staged by the Russians in order to “discredit” Ukrainian forces.

“The enemy produces and shares videos with the inhuman treatment of alleged ‘Russian prisoners’ by ‘Ukrainian soldiers’ in order to discredit Ukrainian Defense Forces,” Zaluzhnyi said.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova was recently asked about the video during an interview with Sky News and said “we need proof,” Reuters reported.

“If militaries from [the] The Ukrainian side are guilty, we will investigate them and take them to court,” said Venediktova, according to Reuters.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the video was full of “monstrous images” and needed to be legally examined, Reuters reported.

Anyone who took part in what he called “torture” must be held responsible, Peskov said, according to the news outlet.

Meanwhile, the United Nations on Monday called on both the Russian and Ukrainian governments to investigate after apparent videos showing the mistreatment of captive soldiers emerged.

“We have seen videos from both sides of Ukrainian prisoners of war that have been taken by the Russian side and Russian prisoners of war that have been taken by the Ukrainian side,” Matilda Bogner, head of the UN’s human rights office in Ukraine, said during a briefing, according to CNN.

Bogner said the UN is “in the process of verifying all of the material that has been issued,” and explained that it “raises serious concerns,” CNN reported.

Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov.

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