Russia & Former Soviet Union

Moscow reacts to reports of western mercenary war crimes in Ukraine

The New York Times has revealed multiple atrocities allegedly committed by international fighters against Russian POWs

Russian soldier captured on the Donbass frontline ©  Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Russia’s Investigative Committee has said it will probe war crimes allegedly committed by a mercenary unit fighting for Ukraine. The statement comes after the New York Times (NYT) claimed the so-called Chosen Company, led by a former US Army National Guard soldier, has committed multiple war crimes and executed Russian prisoners of war.

In one reported incident described by the NYT on Saturday, members of the so-called Chosen Company murdered a seriously injured Russian serviceman who was allegedly surrendering and pleading for help.

“Investigators of the Russian Investigative Committee will look into more crimes by Ukraine’s armed formations,” the agency stated on their Telegram channel on Saturday, noting that “information is being circulated in the media about a crime committed against a wounded Russian prisoner of war who was killed with a shot to the head.”

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Russia’s ambassador-at-large for Ukraine’s crimes, Rodion Miroshnik, has said that “all the data cited by the publication will be verified and analyzed” by law enforcement agencies. Moscow will also also demand that international organizations with representatives in Ukraine verify the information, which, if confirmed, would qualify “as a violation of key norms and principles of humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes.”

Commenting on the NYT report, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that US media previously chose to ignore multiple reports of human rights violations submitted by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which had also been circulated in the UN Security Council.

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“It is amusing to watch how American journalists and media platforms pretend they knew nothing about the abuse of the peaceful population of Donbass, now new Russian regions, by the Kiev regime. They act as if they are unaware of the torture inflicted on people by the Ukrainian army and security forces. Ridiculous,” Zakharova stated in an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia, published on Sunday.

Last year, Moscow launched an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by French mercenaries, after a photo surfaced showing three Russian POWs shot at point-blank range.

According to the Investigative Committee, more than 3,100 foreign mercenaries are currently fighting in Ukraine, most of them US, Canadian and British citizens. Moscow has repeatedly warned that mercenaries are not viewed as combatants under international law and “the best thing” they can hope for if captured alive is “a trial and maximum prison terms.”

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