Sure looks like it, as the Times seems to have done its homework in corroborating the circumstances of the video. I’m not going to embed it since it’s gory and horrific but you can watch it here if you choose.
It’s not a surprise at this point to find Ukrainians taking revenge on Russians but the fact that it isn’t a surprise isn’t an excuse. To all appearances, the clip shows a grievously wounded Russian soldier being executed. And another, seemingly already dead, has his hands bound behind his back.
Also of note: It appears to have been recorded on March 30, the day the Russians withdrew from Bucha and other occupied parts of northwest Ukraine. (The Russian soldiers seen in the video may have been ambushed en route out of the area.) This wasn’t retaliation for the terrible videos that emerged from Bucha after the Ukrainians liberated that town, in other words. Those videos hadn’t been recorded yet.
“He’s still alive. Film these marauders. Look, he’s still alive. He’s gasping,” a man says as a Russian soldier with a jacket pulled over his head, apparently wounded, is seen still breathing. A soldier then shoots the man twice. After the man keeps moving, the soldier shoots him again, and he stops. The Times is not publishing the video because of its graphic nature.
At least three other apparent Russian soldiers, including one with an obvious head wound who has his hands tied behind his back, can be seen dead near the victim. All are wearing camouflage, and three have white arm bands commonly worn by Russian troops. Equipment is scattered around them and there are blood stains near each man’s head.
The Ukrainian soldiers are identifiable by their flag patches and blue arm bands and repeat “glory to Ukraine” multiple times. Their unit is unclear, but in the video of the killing, one of the men refers to some of them as “Belgravia lads,” likely referring to a housing development called Belgravia located a few hundred yards from the incident.
The times geolocated the scene to an area seven miles southwest of Bucha. As for the “Belgravia lads,” they may be Georgian volunteers rather than Ukrainian natives:
One soldier appears similar to a man pictured in close proximity, possibly providing protection, to former Georgian President and Ukrainian politician Mikheil Saakashvili during a 2017 protest. Facial matching software has indicated a likely match to open source researchers. pic.twitter.com/8kAq28U8da
— Evan Hill (@evanhill) April 6, 2022
Either way, they’re part of the Ukrainian forces. Ukrainians will shed no tears, I’m sure, when they watch the clip during a break from scraping the remains of their relatives off of the roads in the Kiev suburbs. I wouldn’t either if I were in their shoes. But a war crime is a war crime. It’s monstrous to execute prisoners, and it’s a propaganda gift to an enemy that excels at leveraging propaganda to lethal ends.
I hope we don’t see more reprisals as the extent of Russian crimes against Ukraine becomes known but I fear we will. The mayor of Mariupol, the Ukrainian city that’s suffered more than any other, claimed today that more than 5,000 civilians there have died, among them more than 200 children. He also alleged that Russian forces have bombed the city’s hospitals; 50 people reportedly died in a fire caused by one such bombing. Bombing hospitals appears to be part of a pattern too:
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the aid group Doctors without Borders said its staff witnessed an attack Monday on a cancer hospital in a residential district of the southern city of Mykolaiv. The group said it was the third known strike in recent days on a hospital in the port city, whose capture is key to giving Russia control of the Black Sea coast.
It said it had no overall death toll, but its team saw one body.
The group said it also saw numerous small holes in the ground, scattered over a large area, that suggested the use of cluster bombs. Russia has denied using cluster munitions in Ukraine. The use of such weapons against civilians can be a violation of international law.
The Times reports today on an especially diabolical weapon used by retreating Russians known as a POM-3. The POM-3 is a high-tech land mine. It contains a sensor that helps it detect when people are nearby, not just right on top of it, and it’s sophisticated enough to distinguish the footsteps of humans from those of animals so that it doesn’t detonate and “waste” its payload on dogs. It can kill from 50 feet away, which means Ukrainians and other western experts looking to clear Russian mines from liberated towns now have to worry about a POM-3 blowing up in their face before they even know it’s there. There are probably Ukrainians returning home today who are being killed by POM-3s left behind by an enemy that’s already long gone.
Bottom line: The war’s going to get much uglier this month on both sides. And it’s already awfully ugly.