Accusations Arise: Russia Allegedly Executes Prisoners of War Following Ukraine’s Withdrawal from Avdiivka

Recently, Ukrainian forces relinquished control of the eastern city of Avdiivka, a location they had fiercely defended against a relentless Russian assault for several months.

The capture of Avdiivka holds strategic and symbolic significance for Russia, bolstering its defense of the regional capital, Donetsk, and potentially paving the way for additional offensives into Ukrainian-held territories. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi has stated that the decision to retreat from the city was made with the primary aim of preserving the lives of Ukrainian soldiers.

Newly surfaced evidence suggests potential war crimes, as family members of six soldiers discovered dead in the aftermath of the city’s takeover allege that the individuals were executed after surrendering. Ukrainian authorities are currently conducting an investigation into these allegations. Moscow has not provided any comments on the matter as of now.

Ukrainian soldiers who withdrew from Avdiivka have provided testimony outlining a scenario of unresponsive commanders who disregarded their troops’ desperate pleas to retreat as they found themselves encircled by Russian forces. According to their accounts, when the withdrawal order was eventually issued, it came too late, and they were already completely surrounded.

A video shared by Russian military bloggers following the capture of Avdiivka appears to display the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers believed to have surrendered after Russian troops seized their position. Ivan Zhytnyk, Andriy Dubnytsky, and Georgiy Pavlov have been identified by their relatives as the soldiers seen in the video.

An interview was conducted with these soldiers and others stationed at the base, named “Zenith,” located on the southeastern outskirts of Avdiivka. The objective of these interviews is to piece together the chaotic events that led to their deaths.

For weeks, the fighters stationed at the position had been engaged in an intensifying and desperate battle to maintain their position. Despite their persistent pleas to commanders to evacuate them, expressing concerns about an imminent full encirclement, their requests were consistently denied, and they were instructed to wait.

On February 13, the defenders of Zenith received the belated order to withdraw to another position in Avdiivka. However, by that time, it proved to be too late to execute the withdrawal effectively.

Kateryna Ivan Zhytnyk on the phone with his relatives just hours before Russians took their position


Upon receiving the evacuation order, Ivan Zhyntyk, a paramedic, reached out to his brother-in-law Dmitriy, conveying the challenging situation: “We were instructed to retreat and fight our way back. However, behind us are [Russians]. I don’t know what to do,” he messaged.

Ivan and nine other individuals were assigned the daunting task of launching an attack on Russian positions to create a secure passage for the remaining forces. Viktor Bilyak, a soldier from the 110th brigade present in Zenith, lauds them as the bravest members of the group.

However, the team encountered Russian artillery, compelling them to retreat. Only three managed to make it back to the base. Ivan was among them, but his severe injuries caused him to collapse in a field before reaching safety. Several hours later, fellow soldiers from the Zenith base attempted to rescue him.

Viktor Bilyak and three others placed Ivan on a stretcher and began carrying him out, all while facing relentless mortar fire from the Russians. During this evacuation, a nearby shell exploded, causing Viktor to be wounded and necessitating his return to the base. Georgiy Pavlov stepped in to replace him.

According to Viktor, the group was subsequently attacked by two kamikaze drones, resulting in “instead of one wounded, we got five more.”

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