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Prosecutor's Office opens investigation into Russia's use of Ukrainian POWs as human shields

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 15, 2023 4:07 PM 1 min read
A cemetery in Bucha, Kyiv Oblast, on Oct. 7, 2023. Bucha was the site of a massacre in March 2022, and the cemetery holds the graves of many civilians killed under Russian occupation. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The Prosecutor General's Office opened an investigation on Dec. 14 into Russia's alleged use of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) as human shields.

Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine has been accompanied by numerous war crimes and atrocities, with Ukrainian prosecutors recording more than 110,000 war crime cases to date.

The news came after a video surfaced that was subsequently republished by RFE/RL depicting what appeared to be unarmed Ukrainian POWs being forced to walk at gunpoint toward Ukrainian lines.

Journalists from RFE/RL said they managed to pinpoint the time and place of the incident but did not share it at the request of the Ukrainian military.  

The use of POWs as human shields is a violation of the Geneva Convention, which explicitly prohibits prisoners from being used to "render certain points or areas immune from military operations." Russia is a signatory of the Geneva Convention.

Ukraine's Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on national television on Dec. 14 that the practice may be systematic among Russian troops. There have been previous reports that Russian troops forced POWs to walk into minefields, he said.

In addition to being investigated by the Prosecutor General's Office, Lubinets said that the alleged crime should be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). He added that he had already shared details of the alleged crime with the ICC based on the video evidence.

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