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Russian Troops Caught Executing POWs as Kyiv Marks Grim Anniversary

Reuters
Reuters

Ukraine marked the 10th anniversary of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes Day on Tuesday with a gut-wrenching reminder of what is at stake in the country’s war against Russia.

As President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the nation to remember the last protesters killed in Kyiv on February 20, 2014, in the revolution that saw the country break free from Moscow’s grip—a reminder, he said, that “Ukrainians know how to fight for their own freedom”—footage circulated of Russian troops executing three Ukrainian prisoners of war in the Zaporizhzhia region over the weekend.

The open-source intelligence group DeepState UA first released the footage, apparently filmed with a drone, of three Russian soldiers gunning down the Ukrainians who had already surrendered. The brief clip shows one Ukrainian already down, while two others, apparently wounded, stagger away—as the Russian troops behind them quietly get into position and then shoot them from behind.

Warning: Graphic footage

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has said it’s investigating the killings as further proof of Moscow’s war crimes. Just a day earlier, Ukraine’s 110th Brigade announced that several of its wounded troops had been executed by Russian forces after retreating from Avdiivka. Relatives were forced to identify their dead loved ones with footage of the carnage shared online by Russian troops.

The Ukrainian side has said it was impossible to evacuate the wounded, so a decision was made to leave the men behind and secure their freedom as part of a prisoner swap with Russia later. But they were immediately killed instead.

Viktor Belyak, a Ukrainian soldier who survived the chaotic withdrawal from the area, said the wounded troops had sent frantic messages after they’d been left behind. “And it was so hard to read their messages in the Signal chat. Their despair and doom. That will always stay with us. The bravest are dying,” he wrote on social media.

Vladimir Putin appeared to crack a joke about the Ukrainian POWs during a meeting with his defense minister Tuesday, according to footage shared by Russian media. After Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu briefed him about Russia’s takeover of Avdiivka, claiming with a straight face that the Russian military would “take all measures to offer medical aid” to any wounded Ukrainians who are willing to surrender, Putin stared down and fidgeted with his hands before saying, “Let them surrender.”

“If there is anyone left,” he said with a small grin, “they don’t need to cry over their radios or beg for evacuation, like it was reported to me.”

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