The Ukrainian government announced Sunday that it is launching an immediate investigation into an almost six-minute-long video that appears to show Russian prisoners being shot in the knees.
Senior presidential advisor Oleskiy Arestovych condemned the apparent violation of the Geneva Convention and said the government is taking it very seriously. “We are a European army, and we do not mock our prisoners. If this turns out to be real, this is absolutely unacceptable behavior,” he said.
Some of the prisoners in the video were stripped and blindfolded, and while they are lying on the ground a Ukrainian soldier allegedly shoots a Russian soldier in the knee and beats the others. Another video shows standing POWs being shot in the leg at point-blank range.
It appears they were not given medical treatment immediately after being shot. The videos were originally shared by independent journalist Maria Dubovikova.
A Russian official responded that an investigation will be launched “to establish all the circumstances of the ill-treatment of captured soldiers by Ukrainian nationalists.” An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a video reminding the nation’s forces to adhere to the Geneva Convention “whatever your personal emotional motives.”
According to the agreement, all prisoners of war are to be treated humanely, and sentences and executions are not to be carried out without judgment from a “regularly constituted court.”
Another Ukrainian government official noted its forces “strictly adhere” to international humanitarian law and suggested the film may have been staged to discredit its defense forces. Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said the Russian invaders are attempting to “discredit” his defenders and “distributing staged videos.”
The general urges the millions of viewers of the videos to remember the “information and psychological war” and to only trust official government sources.
The exact location where the videos were taken is unknown, though a report suggests they were possibly in the Kharkiv region where a Russian reconnaissance group was recently captured by Ukrainian forces. The eastern city is less than 40 miles from the Russian border and has been pummeled for weeks on end by artillery, rockets, cluster munitions and guided missiles.