A video has surfaced showing Ukrainian soldiers shooting men who allegedly shoot Russian prisoners in the knees during an operation in the Kharkiv region.
In the nearly six-minute video, Ukrainian soldiers say they have captured a Russian reconnaissance group operating out of Olkhovka, a settlement in Kharkov, about 20 miles from the Russian border.
Asked about the video, a senior presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, said in an interview posted on YouTube on Sunday: “The government is taking this very seriously and an investigation will take place immediately. We are a European army and we are not mocking our prisoners. If this turns out to be real, this is absolutely unacceptable behavior.”
In a separate briefing, Arestovych said: “We treat prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention, regardless of your personal emotional motives.”
CNN has contacted Ukraine’s Defense Ministry for comment. In response, the ministry sent CNN a statement from the chief of the armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi. The statement did not refer directly to the incident, but said: “In order to discredit the Ukrainian armed forces, the enemy is filming and distributing staged videos showing the inhumane treatment by alleged ‘Ukrainian soldiers’ of ‘Russian prisoners.’
“I emphasize that soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other legitimate military formations strictly adhere to the standards of international humanitarian law,” Zaluzhnyi said. “I urge you to be mindful of the realities of informational and psychological warfare and to trust only official sources.”
It is not clear which Ukrainian unit was involved. The soldiers speak in a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian with Ukrainian accents.
The video comes as Ukrainian forces gain east and south of Kharkiv. CNN located and verified a lengthy video uploaded on a Telegram Saturday showing a successful attack by Ukrainian troops of the Azov Battalion, taking some Russian prisoners in a swift attack on Olkhovka, also known as Vilkhivka.
Some prisoners were stripped naked and blindfolded.
That video was posted by Konstantin Nemichev, a regional official in Kharkov who took part in the attack on Olkhovka. He told CNN he was not associated with the footage that showed Ukrainian troops squeezing Russian prisoners on the knees.
“This is not our location…I have not seen such a location,” he told CNN on Sunday.
He suggested the video was shot “maybe somewhere in the” [Kharkiv] region.”
In the initial response from the Russian authorities, the chairman of the Commission of Inquiry of the Russian Federation, AI Bastrykin, said an investigation would be launched “to establish all the circumstances of the ill-treatment of imprisoned soldiers by Ukrainian nationalists”.
In a statement, Bastrykin said: “Images have appeared on the internet showing detainees being treated with extreme cruelty by Ukrainian nationalists. The video circulating online shows captured soldiers being shot in both legs and not receiving medical attention. According to some reports, illegal actions took place at one of the bases of the Ukrainian nationalists in the Kharkiv region.”
CNN is not showing the video.