Ukraine accuses Russia of killing unarmed prisoners after fall of Avdiivka

Security Service of Ukraine announces probe after footage of alleged executions circulates on Telegram messaging app.

Ukrainian forces withdrew from Avdiivka over the weekend [Anatolii Stepanov/AFP]

Ukraine has launched an investigation into allegations that Russian forces executed eight unarmed Ukrainian soldiers after they took control of the city of Avdiivka.

The Security Service of Ukraine, under the guidance of the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office, opened a pre-trial investigation into the alleged killing of unarmed prisoners of war in Avdiivka and the village of Vesele, state-run media outlet Ukrinform said on Monday.

“Under the procedural supervision of the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office, a pre-trial investigation has been initiated into the violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder (Part 2 of Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine),” Ukrinform quoted the security agency as saying in a statement.

Ukrinform said evidence of the killings was shared on the Telegram messaging app, including footage showing a Russian soldier shooting two captured Ukrainian soldiers at close range.

Moscow has not publicly responded to the claims.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of unlawful killings and other war crimes since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022. Russia has also accused Ukraine of committing violations of international law.

Russia on Saturday announced that it had taken full control of Avdiivka after the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces  in the biggest gain for Moscow since the fall of Bakhmut last May.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the capture of the city as “an important victory” in the nearly two-year-long war.

Ukraine’s military said on Sunday that Russian forces launched multiple attacks to the west of Avdiivka to build on their territorial gains, including unsuccessful assaults on the village of Lastochkyne.

“The enemy is trying to actively develop its offensive,” Ukrainian military spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy said on state TV.

Ukrainian forces’ retreat from Avdiivka came after they were forced to ration ammunition due to dwindling supplies, which the administration of United States President Joe Biden has blamed on Congress’s failure to swiftly approve a package of military aid for Kyiv.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies