Key developments on Nov. 20:
- Ukraine to investigate video alleging death of Russian POWs
- General Staff: Russian military command plans to transfer units from south to east
- Zelensky: Russia has launched more than 4,700 missiles at Ukraine since Feb. 24.
Ukraine denies Russian accusations of committing war crimes after a video surfaced online alleging the death of over 10 Russian soldiers as they were apparently about to surrender.
Ukraine’s Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said the incident was staged.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna said that Ukraine will “of course” investigate the video footage and that it is “highly unlikely” that the fragmented video footage helps legitimize Moscow’s claims.
Moscow, known for committing numerous war crimes in Ukraine, has accused Kyiv of executing prisoners.
“We are aware of the videos, and we are looking into them,” spokeswoman for the United Nations Human Rights Office Marta Hurtado told Reuters on Nov. 18.
“Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account,” she said, quoted by Reuters.
According to the video, first published on Nov. 13, Ukrainian troops have captured around 10 Russian soldiers in what is said to be the newly liberated village of Makiivka, Luhansk Oblast.
After the Russian soldiers are lined up on the ground, an unidentified man begins shooting in the direction of Ukrainian troops, and the video abruptly ends.
It remains unclear whether the man shooting in the video represents the Russian or Ukrainian side.
A second video, which apparently shows video footage from a drone, suggests that the lined-up Russian soldiers are dead. There is no information concerning what happened to Ukrainian soldiers in the video.
The Russian military command appears to be planning to transfer units that withdrew from Kherson and other areas on the western bank of the Dnipro River to the eastern front line, Ukraine’s General Staff said.
The destinations are likely Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, according to the report. It has been a long-sought Kremlin goal to capture the Donbas, but its forces have hardly made any progress in the past four months.
In a likely attempt to have a firmer grip on Luhansk Oblast, Russian troops are setting up more checkpoints in the region to identify and detain deserters, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.
On the battlefield, the Ukrainian military said it repelled attacks near the recently liberated town of Bilohorivka in Luhansk Oblast and near six settlements, including Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast.
In an evening address, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces are “moving little by little” in Luhansk Oblast, but “the toughest battles are still in Donetsk Oblast,” where intense Russian shelling continues.
During the past 24 hours, Ukraine launched six airstrikes near Russian military bases and equipment, as well as on anti-aircraft missile systems, the General Staff report said.
Zelensky said that Russian forces had launched more than 4,700 missiles at Ukraine since Feb. 24.
He added that the recent wave of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure left 20 million people without power – nearly half of the country’s pre-war population.
On Nov. 20, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts stationed in the Moscow-held Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant reported hearing more than a dozen explosions in the morning.
The experts said some buildings and equipment were damaged at the site, but “none of them so far critical for nuclear safety and security,” according to the UN nuclear watchdog’s report.
In neighboring Poland, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the ongoing investigation into the missile blast that killed two on Nov. 15 would “take some time,” but experts from Ukraine and NATO were invited.
Speaking at the press conference, Morawiecki said that there was some evidence, but it does “not show with absolute certainty where the rocket was fired from.”