November 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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Russia has accused Ukraine of war crimes after video emerged on social media that Moscow said shows Russian soldiers killed after surrendering to Ukrainian forces. 

The video, which has been geolocated by CNN, was filmed on the outskirts of the village of Makiivka, which is in the eastern Luhansk region, about 25 miles (roughly 40 kilometers) northeast of the city of Lyman.

It is unclear when the video was filmed, but it is most likely to have been either on Nov. 12 — the date the video first appeared online — or in the days immediately preceding it. The village was only declared liberated from Russian control in an announcement by the Luhansk region military administration on Nov. 13. 

The edited video purports to show captured Russian soldiers in an act of surrender, with several men lying on the ground on their fronts with their hands over their heads. More soldiers are seen emerging one by one from a building and lying down next to them in the yard.

A voice apparently directing the surrender can be heard shouting: “Come on out, one by one. Which of you is the officer? Has everyone come out? Come out!”

After about 10 men are down on the ground, another soldier emerges from the same building and appears to open fire in the direction of the Ukrainian soldiers conducting the surrender. 

A short exchange of gunfire is heard before the video clip ends abruptly.

A second clip filmed later from a drone above the same location shows the bodies of what appear to be the same Russian soldiers in the yard, most just a few meters from where they had been lying in the first clip. What appear to be pools of blood are clearly visible in several places. 

CNN has been unable to verify exactly what happened in the first video clip, and it is unclear exactly what happened in the period that elapsed between the first clip and the filming of the drone footage.

Marta Hurtado, a spokesperson for the United Nations Human Rights Office, said, according to Reuters: “We are aware of the videos and we are looking into them. Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account.”

A statement from Russia’s Defense Ministry denounced what it said was “the deliberate and methodical killing of more than ten immobilized Russian servicemen … by direct shots to the head,” alleging it was the latest war crime committed by Ukraine in the war.

CNN has reached out to the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ General Staff for comment on the video clips twice in a 24-hour period but has yet to receive a reply.

A spokesman with Ukraine’s 80th airborne brigade told CNN that the drone footage had been shot by the brigade’s air reconnaissance unit. Asked to verify whether the Ukrainian soldiers in the clip were also members of his brigade, the spokesman would only say he did not recognize any of the men in the clip.

Executing prisoners of war is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, as is the act of feigning surrender. 

Earlier in the week, in a briefing with journalists before the Makiivka videos had come into wide circulation, the head of the UN’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, said that the UN had received credible reports of the torture and mistreatment of prisoners of war by both Russia and Ukraine, Reuters reported.

When asked to compare the level of abuses committed, Bogner said the mistreatment of Ukrainian prisoners by Russians was “fairly systematic,” whereas she said it was “not systematic” for Ukraine to mistreat Russian soldiers, according to Reuters.

More context: A UN panel of experts said in September that their investigation has found evidence that war crimes have been committed during Russia’s war in Ukraine, including cases of rape and torture of children.

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