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Russian state media: Ukrainian POWs will fight for Russia in Ukraine

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 28, 2023 12:26 PM 2 min read
Reservists drafted during Russia's "partial" mobilization for its full-scale war against Ukraine attend a departure ceremony in Sevastopol, Russian-occupied Crimea, on Sept. 27, 2022. (Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)
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The "Bohdan Khmelnytsky" battalion formed from Ukrainian prisoners of war has joined a Russian military unit and will be deployed to Ukraine's front lines after taking the oath, Russian state-controlled news outlet RIA Novosti reported on Oct. 27.

Coercion of POWs into combat would violate the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War, which says that "no prisoner of war may at any time be sent to or detained in areas where he may be exposed to the fire of the combat zone."

The battalion was created in February in the Russian-occupied part of Donetsk Oblast, the formation's alleged commander, Andrii Tyshchenko, told RIA Novosti, adding that they "recruited" around 70 Ukrainian POWs at the time.

RIA Novosti calls the battalion "volunteer," claiming that its members joined the formation "voluntarily, having accepted Russian citizenship."

Escaping Russian army: The story of one Ukrainian forced to fight against his homeland
Editor’s Note: The name of the person interviewed by the Kyiv Independent for this story has been changed to protect his identity as he has shared sensitive information that could place him and his family in danger. “If Russia orders us to invade the entire galaxy, we will,” the

Russia has reportedly conscripted tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied parts of Ukraine to fight against their own country since the start of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

Many of them are believed to have been killed in action, as Moscow reportedly uses these people as cannon fodder to expose Ukrainian artillery positions and to cover units recruited inside Russia.

Russia's military has been repeatedly accused of mistreating Ukrainian POWs and violating international humanitarian laws.

Ukraine's Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on April 17 that his office had received "several dozens" of videos allegedly showing executions of Ukrainian POWs carried out by Russian soldiers.

Between July 28 and 29, 2022, an explosion in Russian-occupied Olenivka killed over 50 Ukrainian prisoners and injured 75 more. Kyiv called this a deliberate Russian war crime.

‘I never planned to fight against Ukraine:’ Forcibly conscripted by Russia, Ukrainians await fate in POW camp
Editor’s note: The location of the prisoner of the war camp the Kyiv Independent visited is undisclosed for security reasons. The Kyiv Independent got vocal recorded agreement from the prisoners of the war to be interviewed and identified in the story. When Yevhen Kalashnikov found an opening to su…

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