For this shameful reason, Russia refuses to take back injured prisoners of war

Pro-Russian fighters in a Ukrainian POW facility

The exchange of prisoners of war is a way for the warring parties to negotiate with one another off the battlefield. However, if the soldiers are seriously wounded, according to the Geneva Convention, they must be returned to their homeland as quickly as possible. According to Ukrainian officials, however, it is currently difficult to talk about an exchange with Russia.

This was explained to the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform by a representative of the coordination center for prisoners of war, Oleh Slobodianyk. Slobodianyk emphasized that an exchange between the two countries could also take place outside of political processes. However, Russia is currently not ready to take part in the coordination. The reason: “Not interested.”

Russia refuses to take back seriously injured prisoners

According to Ukrinform, Ukraine has repeatedly attempted to hand over seriously injured Russian prisoners to Russia voluntarily and in accordance with international humanitarian law. However, Russia refuses to take them back – even without any obligation.

Oleksandr Kononenko, chief negotiator for the prisoner swap, said Ukraine is ready to handle the swap through a third party. Negotiations are currently underway to involve third countries in the process. However, whether Russia is ready for this is another question.

In addition, Kononenko said that according to the Geneva Convention, seriously wounded or sick soldiers during a war must be unconditionally repatriated. This problem is currently not properly addressed. However, he assured the citizens of the country that he would do everything possible to initiate the return of the Ukrainian prisoners of war. The Ukrainian Presidential Office informed Ukrinform that 2,598 Ukrainian prisoners of war have already returned to their homeland.

UN sees human rights violations on both sides

As early as the end of 2022, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had accused both Russia and Ukraine of mistreatment of prisoners of war. Russian prisoners in Ukraine are said to have been tortured with electric shocks and beatings.

However, allegations against Russian war prisons are much more common. Ukrainian soldiers are said to have been locked in trucks in Russia for days, as reported by ARD, among others. The prisoners had no access to drinking water or toilets and were said to have been victims of mock executions.

There is also a fundamental difference in the way in which reports can be made about the facilities. While Ukraine allows all international organizations to look into its prisons, Russia only allows the International Committee of the Red Cross to inspect its own camps. The Kremlin says it is still holding more than 6,000 Ukrainian soldiers captive. However, this number cannot be officially confirmed.

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