WASHINGTON: Washington’s war crimes envoy said on Monday (Nov 21) that the United States is following up on allegations that Ukrainian forces summarily executed Russian troops, saying all sides in the conflict should face consequences for their abuses.
The Russian Ministry of Defense on Friday cited videos on social networks showing Ukrainian soldiers executing Russian prisoners of war.
“We are watching this very closely,” US special envoy for global criminal justice Beth Van Schaack told reporters in a telephone briefing.
“It’s really important to emphasize that the laws of war apply equally to all parties: both the aggressor and the defender, and it’s in equal measure,” he said, adding that “all parties to a conflict must comply with international law or face the consequences.”
The videos show Russian soldiers lying on the ground after surrendering. Then automatic gunfire is heard and the video shows about 12 bodies.
According to information, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine said that Ukraine will investigate the incident. The country’s human rights commissioner, Dmitri Lubinets, said the videos show “staged capture” where Russian forces did not actually surrender.
Russia has been accused of numerous war crimes since its large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, including operating a system of infiltration camps to transfer Ukrainians to Russia in the occupied territories. Russia has denied the allegations and accused Ukraine and its Western backers of fabricating the claims.
Van Schaack said the scale of the crimes committed by Russian forces was “enormous” compared to allegations against Ukrainian soldiers, noting that the two sides responded differently when allegations of atrocities emerged.
“Russia inevitably responds with propaganda, denial, falsehood and disinformation, while Ukrainian authorities have generally acknowledged and condemned the abuses and promised to investigate them.”