Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine says it will investigate video footage circulated on Russian social media that Moscow allegedly shows Ukrainian troops killing Russian troops who may have attempted to surrender after one of the Men had apparently refused to put down their guns and open fire.
“Of course, the Ukrainian authorities will investigate this video,” Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, who is overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union, said on the sidelines of a security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Stefanishyna said late Saturday “it is very unlikely” that the short, edited snippets show what Moscow claims.
Russian authorities on Friday announced the opening of a criminal investigation based on the clippings posted on Russian Telegram channels and circulated on other social media. They paint a confused and incomplete picture.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed the footage showed an “execution” and said Russia wanted an international investigation.
However, Stefanishyna said Ukrainian forces were “absolutely not interested in executing anyone” and had direct orders to take “as many prisoners of war as possible” for exchange in prisoner exchanges with Russia.
“Every potentially executed Russian soldier is a Ukrainian who cannot be replaced, so there is no spirit and no logic,” she said.
The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine called for further investigations.
“HRMMU is aware of the video and is investigating it,” it said in a statement to The Associated Press. “We reiterate our demand that all such allegations should be duly and promptly investigated by the relevant authorities.”
Asked if Ukraine will allow an international investigation, Stefanishyna said: “We’ll see. No problem with that.”
Moscow’s forces committed widespread abuse and alleged war crimes during the nearly nine-month invasion, according to the United Nations, human rights groups and reports from The AP.
Matilda Bogner, who heads the UN monitoring mission in Ukraine, said earlier this week that Ukrainian troops are also suspected of some abuses.
“We have received credible allegations of summary executions of people incapacitated and several cases of torture and ill-treatment reportedly perpetrated by members of the Ukrainian armed forces,” Bogner said.
The video snippets that Russia claimed pointed to an execution could not be independently verified.
The longest segment, 36 seconds long and with cuts, shows a group of about 10 men in full military gear, some lying on the ground and others coming out of an outbuilding one after the other, seemingly unarmed, with their hands raised. At commands shouted by someone off-camera, they join the others who are already on the ground.
Some of the men wear red ribbons on their lower legs. Red or white insignia are sometimes worn by Russian and Russia-allied troops to identify them as members of the Kremlin’s invasion force.
The video also shows other men watching them, who are armed and sporting yellow lightning bolts on their arms, legs and helmets.
Ukrainian armed forces often wear yellow, blue or green parts to identify themselves on the battlefields.
A man with a yellow armband appears to be holding the camera. Another, also wearing a yellow armband, lies on the ground with a heavy machine gun and ammo belts. At least two other gunmen with yellow shimmers also appear to be watching the apparent surrender.
In the last seconds of the video, a man appears from behind the outhouse. He appears to be armed. Amid what sounds like sustained gunfire, the video then becomes too blurry to see what happened next. The video breaks off a few seconds later.
A separate 8 second long and silent snippet appears to show these final moments slowed down. As he emerges, the apparently armed man appears to raise a rifle and open fire, the gun’s muzzle emitting puffs of smoke.
Another separate video snippet, 25 seconds long and apparently taken with a drone, appears to show the same men lying motionless amid what appear to be pools of blood.
It was not clear where and when the videos were filmed. Mostly leafless trees in the background seem to indicate an autumn or winter time frame.
Andrey Marochko, a man posing as a Russian officer in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, claimed on Telegram that the footage was shot in Makiivka, a village in the occupied region of eastern Ukraine. Russian media gave the same location. Ukrainian forces claimed to have regained control of the frontline village earlier this month.
Gillies reported from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Elise Morton in London and Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv, Ukraine contributed.
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