Comment of the MFA of Ukraine on the treatment of Russian prisoners of war

Ukraine is a responsible subject of the international community and conscientiously fulfills all its international legal obligations, in particular, under international humanitarian law.

Under the conditions of full-scale Russian aggression, Ukraine, as a party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, strictly observes the principles of warfare, in particular, international humanitarian law, which includes the relevant rules for the treatment of prisoners of war.

Ukraine adheres to the humane treatment of prisoners of war and provides everything guaranteed to them by international law in full.

Under martial law, our state has adopted a number of legal acts regulating the treatment of prisoners of war and their detention.

In particular, Ukraine closely adheres to the provisions of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the Protection of Victims of International Military Conflicts (Protocol 1) and fully ensures the proper treatment of captured Russian servicemen.

In this context, we draw the attention to the fact that the Russian side denounced this important international legal instrument in October 2019. It is now clear that this was one of Russia’s preparatory steps for full-scale aggression against Ukraine.

Ukraine assumes that prisoners of war cannot be held accountable for their direct participation in hostilities if they have not committed military and other crimes defined by international law. Their temporary detention in specially prepared places is intended only to prevent their further participation in hostilities and is not a form of punishment.

The Ukrainian side is ready, as required by international agreements, to release and repatriate Russian prisoners of war after the end of hostilities if they express such a desire.

At the same time, Ukraine reserves the right to detain and prosecute servicemen of the Russian armed forces and other military formations operating on the territory of Ukraine for war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed by them.

We emphasize that Russian soldiers were and remain aggressors, invaders and occupiers on the territory of Ukraine, and the Russian army is a systemic violator of the laws and customs of war.

Ukraine further guarantees in good faith the conditions of detention determined by international humanitarian law, including accommodation, food, clothing, sanitation and health care, and ensures respect for the dignity of prisoners of war.

The Ukrainian side provides access to Russian prisoners of war on a regular basis to representatives of international specialized organizations and institutions, in particular the International Committee of the Red Cross. In addition, a National Information Bureau has been created in our state, which deals with the issues of prisoners, in particular their exchange.

Ukraine demands the relevant humane treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war by the Russian side, including the involvement of specialized international institutions to monitor the conditions of their detention in Russian-controlled territories.