Russian forces have eliminated a group of Georgian mercenaries, fighting on the Ukrainian side, who were allegedly involved in the abuse and murder of prisoners, the spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Moscow, Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, said on Monday.
According to Konashenkov, on June 26, three kilometers from the Lisichansk oil refinery in the Lugansk People’s Republic, Russian units “destroyed two sabotage and reconnaissance groups of mercenaries with a total number of 14 militants.”
The first group, according to the spokesman, “consisted of citizens of various European countries,” while the second listed only mercenaries from the so-called Georgian Legion. According to Konashenkov, “Georgian militants were involved in the brutal torture and murder of Russian servicemen near Kiev in March this year.”
Since the launch of the Russian military offensive in Ukraine at the end of February, Moscow and Kiev have been accusing each other of abuse and torture, as well as of atrocities against civilians. In May, the Russian Investigative Committee said it was looking into a video published on social media, showing a Georgian mercenary beating a captured Russian soldier.
Tatyana Moskalkova, Russia’s top human rights official, voiced concerns this month over the treatment of Russian prisoners in Ukraine. The International Red Cross had not provided any information about visits to check on the conditions the Russian POWs have been kept in, she claimed.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.