Key developments on April 17:
- Slovakia completes transferring 13 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine
- Official: Ukraine hasn't found Chinese weapons on the battlefield
- Ombudsman's office receives 'dozens' of videos with alleged executions of Ukrainian POWs
- Two former Wagner Group mercenaries admit killing civilians, POWs
Slovakia transferred all 13 pledged MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, the Slovak Defense Ministry said on April 17.
"The transfer was conducted by land to ensure the utmost security," Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said.
It was "the right thing" to provide Ukraine with Soviet-era fighter jets to use on the battlefield, he added.
Slovakia joined Poland as the only countries that provided Ukraine with Soviet-made fighter jets. Earlier, Poland pledged 14 MiG-29s to Ukraine.
Poland has already delivered eight of them, with others delivered gradually as Warsaw awaits for their air fleet to be replenished by modern aircraft, Poland's President Andrzej Duda said on April 14.
Moreover, Germany reportedly approved Poland's request to export MiG-29s from East German stocks to Ukraine.
Poland, one of Ukraine's top allies in terms of military aid, has about a dozen MiG-29s bought from Berlin in 2002.
Ukraine's Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said the MiG-29 transfer is a major help but "unlikely to be a game-changer at the front."
Ukraine has been campaigning to receive modern fighter jets from its Western allies, arguing that air supremacy is necessary to aid its soldiers on the battlefield. They are needed to support offensive operations and defend against Russian missile and guided bomb attacks.
Critics claim that allies' reluctance to supply Western-made F-16, Typhoon, and Dassault fighter jets and long-range ATACMS missiles will prevent Ukrainian forces from launching a counteroffensive and liberating the rest of Ukraine's territory.
So far, no country has agreed to provide Ukraine with modern fighter jets, yet several countries haven't ruled out the move.
No Chinese weapons found on the battlefield
National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said in an interview on April 16 that Ukraine hasn't found any Chinese weapons used by Russian forces on the battlefield.
"In the event that this changes, we will promptly notify both (Ukrainian) society and the world. However, considering China's involvement in world affairs, it is unclear why they would choose to supply weapons to the Russian Federation at this time," Danilov said.
On April 14, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said that his country wouldn't sell weapons to either side of the war.
China has been positioning itself as a potential mediator between Kyiv and Moscow and proposed a widely criticized 12-point "peace plan" that does not explicitly include the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.
However, Li Shangfu, China's newly appointed defense minister, made his first foreign visit to Russia on April 16 to meet Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Li Shangfu said that he had "specifically chosen Russia" in order to "emphasize the special nature and strategic importance" of bilateral relations between China and Russia.
Reportedly more videos with alleged executions of Ukrainian POWs
Ukraine's Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said his office has received "several dozens" of videos allegedly showing Russian troops executing Ukrainian prisoners of war.
"This is cutting off the head, the genitals, the ears, nose, limbs, phalanges on the hands," Lubinets told Ukrainska Pravda on April 17, adding some Russian soldiers "were verified."
One alleged Russian perpetrator was killed in action during a clash with Ukrainian troops, he said.
Russia distributes such videos online to "maintain the degree of anti-Ukrainian hysteria" within Russian society, persuade its troops not to surrender, and intimidate Ukrainian soldiers preparing for a counteroffensive, according to the ombudsman.
Earlier, Lubinets said the alleged executions of captive Ukrainian soldiers that had appeared in viral videos would not affect Ukraine's treatment of Russian POWs.
A graphic video showing Russian troops decapitating a Ukrainian POW with a knife was published online late on April 11.
Ukraine's Security Service launched an investigation into violations of the laws and customs of war. President Volodymyr Zelensky called on international leaders to react to the execution.
On April 17, two former Wagner Group mercenaries told Russian opposition media outlet Gulagu.net they had killed dozens of Ukrainian civilians, including children, as well as prisoners of war when fighting in Donetsk Oblast.
Ex-prisoners Azamat Uldarov and Alexey Savichev were recruited by Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin to take part in Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to the publication.
"We came with 150 Wagner fighters killing everyone (on our way) – women, men, elderly, and children, including small, five-year-olds," Uldarov said in a video interview with Gulagu.net.
According to Uldarov, Prigozhin personally gave the order to do it, which the ex-mercenary called "cleaning up," as well as ordered not to take anyone alive, "but only to kill."
Uldarov admitted he gave a command to kill "300-400" civilians sheltering in a basement of an apartment building, among whom were 40 children.
Following the interviews, the Prosecutor General's Office reported it had started investigating the alleged war crimes committed by the two ex-soldiers.
President's Office Head Andrii Yermak said, "confession is not enough."
"There must be a punishment. Tough and fair. There definitely will be. We will find out all the facts of the crimes and find everyone who committed them," added Yermak.