UKRAINE: In the aftermath of battling one of the fiercest aggressive forces in the world, three Ukrainian troops who claim they were injured and taken captive by Russia before being eventually released accused their captors of torturing and using psychological pressure as methods of debilitation.
Following Russia’s launch of its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, the soldiers in question, who were in a group that fought for weeks from a sizeable steelwork in the southern port of Mariupol, claimed during a Kyiv news conference that their captors coerced them to false atrocities against civilians.
The trio’s claims that Russian forces kidnapped them have not been confirmed conclusively. The Russian defence ministry has not responded to a request for comment. Russia has been accused of committing grave war crimes against Ukraine, but the Kremlin has consistently denied such accusations.
One of the captives, Vladyslav Zhaivoronok, who lost a leg, revealed, “I was interrogated even before I started receiving antibiotics after my limb was amputated.”
He explained further and revealed nitty-gritty details about prison torture. “The guys who were there were tortured. Some had needles inserted into their wounds; some were tortured with water; some received inadequate treatment.”
The three soldiers had been part of an exchange of prisoners where they were swapped for Russian PoWs. Although the exact date of the exchange has not been identified yet, Ukraine declared in June that Russia had released 144 prisoners.
Zhaivoronok served in the national guard’s Azov regiment, which includes some individuals with associations with far-right and ultranationalist roots.
Hundreds of Azov forces surrendered in May after weeks of endless combat from the steelworks’ tunnels and bunkers. The Russian Supreme Court declared the regiment a terrorist organization on August 2, despite charges against Azov inmates.
Russia claims its “special military operation” in Ukraine is an attempt to demilitarize its neighbor and safeguard Russian-speaking minorities. In reality, the graphic images of war, destruction and blood have been enough to prove that Russia is involved in something bigger than territorial and cultural protection. Moscow is accused of pursuing an imperial-style war of conquest by Ukraine and its Western sponsors.