Ukraine clarifies its POW policy

7 June, 12:36 PM
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry building in Kyiv (Photo:NV)

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry building in Kyiv (Photo:NV)

After the war ends, Ukraine is prepared to release all Russian prisoners of war and send them back to Russia, should they wish that, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a press release on June 6.

The ministry stated that Ukraine strictly adheres to Internationally-accepted rules of engagement and treats POWs humanely. In accordance with international conventions, Russian prisoners are kept under guard in proper conditions; and their rights and dignity are fully respected, the Ministry said.

International organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, are regularly granted access to captive Russian combatants. A government agency has been set up to oversee Russian POWs and their exchanges.

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“Our state policy is based on the principle that POWs cannot be prosecuted for their participation in war, provided they didn’t commit war crimes and other types of misconduct, as specified by international law,” the ministry’s message said.

“They are kept temporarily under guard in designated facilities not as a form of punishment, but to prevent them from further participation in hostilities. At the same time, Ukraine reserves the right to prosecute enemy combatants on our territory, for any war crimes and crimes against humanity they may have committed.”

The ministry added that Ukraine demands the same treatment of captive Ukrainian military service members by Russia. The message mentions Russia withdrawing its signature from the 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions, which covered the protection of victims of international conflicts.

“It’s clear now that (abandoning the protocol) was a step in Russia’s preparation for its full-scale aggression against Ukraine,” the Ministry said.

Russian treatment of POWs is largely unknown, but reports have surfaced of torture and harsh interrogation methods used in so-called “filtration camps”, where Russian officials process Ukrainian nationals and residents for “Russification.” A number of POWs, particularly those captured during the fall of Mariupol, are believed to also have been processed through those “filtration camps.”

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