Op-ed

Western mercenaries killed Russian POWs – German medic

The field doctor, who worked in Ukraine, described to the New York Times the executions of several prisoners of war

FILE PHOTO: A Russian prisoner of war awaits transfer to a prisoner camp in Ukraine, July 6, 2024 ©  Kostiantyn Liberov / Libkos / Getty Images

Members of the ‘Chosen Company’, an international mercenary group fighting on behalf of Ukraine, have engaged in apparent war crimes by killing wounded or surrendering Russian soldiers, the New York Times has reported, citing a German battlefield medic.

In an article published on Saturday, the paper detailed an account from Caspar Grosse, a former German soldier who served as a medic for the unit and allegedly witnessed the events.

He described an incident in August 2023, when a severely injured and unarmed Russian soldier, initially presumed dead, crawled out of a trench saying “help” and “surrender” in English, only to be shot in the chest by a member of the unit. The Russian was still “breathing and wiggling around” when another fighter “just shot him in the head,” which Grosse assumed was a “mercy kill” at that point.

READ MORE: Ukrainian troops tortured and killed prisoners – ex-German soldier

In another episode recounted by Grosse, a Greek soldier known as Zeus tossed a grenade at two Russian soldiers, one of whom was seriously injured and “could barely move.” A second serviceman tried to approach the mercenaries with his hands up when the grenade explosion killed them both, according to a helmet camera video reviewed by the publication. Grosse added that a Ukrainian drone team also confirmed at the time that the soldier was apparently trying to surrender.

In a third incident in mid-October, Grosse received a text message from a member with the call sign Andok, who was in charge of the unit that day, saying the team “got these captures.” The POWs appeared to be shot dead by Zeus, who later bragged about the killing.

“Today a good friend willingly executed a bound prisoner… As the prisoner was sitting in a trench blindage with his jacket draped over his shoulders, Zeus came up behind him and shot him in the back of the head multiple times,” Grosse wrote in his journal at the time, which was reviewed by NYT. Andok reportedly defended the murder by saying Zeus was “just doing his job.”

READ MORE: Russia to investigate alleged crimes by French mercenaries

“I specifically said that, because I’m the medic, I want prisoners to be in my care and nobody gets to shoot them,” Grosse told the NYT, claiming he was so disturbed by the incidents that he had complained to Ryan O’Leary, the de facto commander of Chosen Company and a former US Army National Guardsman from Iowa. O’Leary denied that his “brothers” had committed any war crimes.

Under the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, “members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, or detention” should be treated humanely. Murder of all kinds, mutilation, and torture of prisoners constitute a war crime.

Following the NYT report, Russia’s ambassador-at-large for Ukraine’s crimes, Rodion Miroshnik, said Moscow will demand that international organizations with representatives in Ukraine verify the information, which if confirmed, would qualify “as a violation of the key norms and principles of humanitarian law, which refers to war crimes.”

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