The images are unbearable. Lying on the ground, two men in military uniform bleed their blood, which flows on the bitumen of a rutted road. There is a dull sound of breathing. “He’s still alive”, comments a voice. A soldier fires two shots, but the body is still moving. A third shot puts an end to the hoarse snoring of the victim. A few meters further on, two other men are lying in blood, one of whom has his hands tied behind his back. Some wear the white armband of the Russian forces. “Slav Ukrainian” (“Glory to Ukraine”, in French), slips a man in front of the camera. A dozen fighters appear in the image.
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A Russian BMD-2 armored vehicle, marked with the letter “V”, is visible on the side. These murders seem to have been committed following an ambush carried out by Ukrainian soldiers against a Russian column, writes the New York Times (in English).
“Soldiers on site told us that this attack had happened 48 hours earlier”, wrote, Saturday, April 2, the independent journalist Oz Katerji, who noted the destruction of 13 tanks and armored vehicles. On the same day, the Russian Ministry of Defense broadcast the video of a destroyed Russian convoy near the village of Dmitrovka, west of kyiv, where the withdrawal of troops sent by Moscow was taking place.
The BBC has located the road that connects Dmitrovka to Irpin and Boutcha, by intersecting several visual elements (in English). The British media is also broadcasting a satellite image from Maxar Technologies, dated March 31, which shows armored vehicles and bloodstains on the ground. According to the BBC, the scene was shot on the afternoon of March 29, or earlier, as an early version of the video appeared on the morning of March 30. It is highly likely that the victims were Russian soldiers, as the statement of one of the men suggests: “There they are, the defenders of the Russian army”.
The unit in question is not formally identified, but the Ukrainian media Union attributes the success of the ambush to the Georgian Legion, a paramilitary organization fighting alongside kyiv. According to New York Timesone of the soldiers involved also mentions “Belgravia Boys”, which probably refers to a nearby housing estate. Some pro-Russian Telegram accounts claim to have identified two men who appear in the image, giving their names. It would be a Georgian fighter, former bodyguard of the ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, anda fighter from kyiv.
These images made Moscow react, which condemns “war crimes”. Lhe Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has announced charges against Georgian Legion Commander Mamuka Mamulashvili. During a YouTube broadcast on Wednesday, the latter said that his men would not take Russian prisoners or “kadyrovite”– implying that they settled the fate of the vanquished in blood. “I haven’t seen the video”commented Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of his visit to NATO in Brussels (Belgium), reaffirming that the Ukrainian army “respected the rules of war”, but without excluding an isolated act which will be the subject of an investigation. Before adding: “You don’t understand how we feel after seeing the images of Boutcha”.
This is not the first time that the armed forces of kyiv have been singled out. A few days earlier, another video had already been widely commented on, on which men in military uniform appeared torturing prisoners. Some of them sported the white armband, worn by the Russian forces, while they were beaten by men with the blue armband, a sign of recognition of the Ukrainian forces.
According to the verification of the franceinfo Revelators, the scene took place in a dairy products factory, east of Kharkiv, near the village of Mala Rohan, as evidenced by several concordant visual elements (red poles, building , patterns on the ground, etc.). This location is also consistent with the current military situation. The village of Mala Rohan had just been liberated by Ukrainian forces, between March 25 and 26, during an offensive.
The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian forces, Valeri Zaloujny, had denounced on Facebook a Russian staging aimed at “discrediting the defense forces” from Kyiv. On the same day, presidential adviser Alexei Arestovitch for his part declared that an investigation would be launched and that “the culprits, if found, would be punished”. Four days later, the NGO Human Rights Watch had mentioned potential “war crimes” Ukrainians and called on kyiv to shed full light on this episode. More broadly, she still calls on Ukraine to stop the dissemination of images of Russian prisoners on social networks.