“Returning fire is not a war crime,” a Ukrainian official said of the eastern Luhansk incident
Commenting on an incident in east Luhansk on Sunday, Ukraine’s Parliament Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Lubinets said that the Russian military “are the ones who fight and commit treason” and that “returning fire is not a war crime”.
Russia has accused Ukraine of war crimes after a video surfaced on social media that Moscow says shows dead Russian soldiers after they surrendered to Ukrainian forces.
The exact details of what happened are still unclear.
“From some video fragments about the incident with the Russian military in the Luhansk region, it can be concluded that the Russians committed a war crime with the staged surrender – they opened fire on the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he told Lubinets in one Telegram post on Sunday, hinting that the Russians in the video may have pretended to give up but didn’t.
“In this case, the people belonging to the Russian military cannot be considered prisoners of war, but are the ones who fight and commit treason,” he said. “Returning fire is not a war crime. On the contrary, those who want to use the protection of international law to kill must be punished.”
The edited video is said to show captured Russian soldiers in an act of surrender, with several men lying face-first on the ground with their hands over their heads. More soldiers come out of a building one by one and lie down next to them in the yard.
A voice is heard apparently ordering the surrender: “Come out, one by one. Which one of you is the officer? are you all out
After about 10 men are on the ground, another soldier emerges from the same building and appears to open fire towards the Ukrainian soldiers, who are ordering the surrender.
A short salvo of gunfire is heard before the video ends abruptly.
A second clip, later filmed by a drone over the same location, shows the bodies of what appear to be the same Russian soldiers in the yard, most just meters from where they were lying in the first clip.
CNN was unable to verify exactly what happened in the first video clip, and it’s unclear what exactly happened in the time between the first clip and the drone footage being shot.
The UN is investigating: “We are aware of the videos and are investigating them. Complaints about summary executions of people incapacitated must be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and their perpetrators held accountable,” said Marta Hurtado, spokeswoman for the United Nations Human Rights Office, according to Reuters.
more context: A UN group of experts said in September its probe found evidence of war crimes being committed in Ukraine during the Russian war, including cases of rape and torture of children.