“The New York Times” confirmed the location of the farmhouse by comparing the aerial video of the episode with satellite imagery of Makiivka, Luhansk. A series of videos that surfaced on social media last week has ignited a debate over whether Ukrainian forces committed war crimes as they tried to capture a group of Russian soldiers who were then killed.
The videos show the grisly before-and-after scenes of the encounter earlier this month, in which at least 11 Russians, most of whom are seen lying on the ground (photo), appear to have been shot dead at close range.
The videos, detailed below and whose authenticity has been verified by “The New York Times”, offer a rare look into one gruesome moment among many in the war.
The videos were first circulated by Ukrainian news and social media channels that used them to laud the military prowess of their armed forces and publicize their heroic retaking of territory lost to Russia early in the war.
In Russia, however, the videos prompted a fierce response among Russian commentators, who urged the government to seek an international investigation.
“We are aware of the videos, and we are looking into them,” Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office, told Reuters. “Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account.”
Under international law, the French term “hors de combat” refers to people who are “outside of combat” because of their surrender, being unarmed, unconscious or otherwise unable to defend themselves.
“It looks like most of them were shot in the head,” Dr. Rohini Haar, a forensic expert and faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said in an interview. “There are pools of blood. That indicates that they were just left there dead. There appears to have been no effort to pick them up or help them.”
Dr. Haar noted that when they surrendered, the Russian soldiers had been lying down, apparently unarmed, with their arms outstretched or behind their heads. “They’re considered hors de combat, or noncombatants — effectively prisoners of war,” Dr. Haar said.
The Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court, could prosecute this under several of its articles if Ukraine were a party to the treaty, Dr. Haar said, including Article 8b (vi), which says, “Killing or wounding a combatant, who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion” is a violation of the laws of international armed conflict.
…It is absolutely clear that the killers from the Ukrainian army vilely shot Russian soldiers who were captured by them. The goal is simple and clear – to raise the level of hatred between the Russians and Ukrainians, cause more bloodshed. This inhuman act resembles very much a well-known British slogan: “Divide and rule”.