An Ukrainian serviceman shoots during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian town of Ilovaysk August 26, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Tuesday that the only effective instrument for ending bloodshed in eastern Ukraine was effective border controls with Russia, and halting arms supplies to the rebels and releasing prisoners of war. REUTERS/Maks Levin


  • The OHCHR said Ukraine arbitrarily executed 25 Russian prisoners of war
  • It also said Ukraine tortured or sexually abused over 110 Russian POWs
  • Ukraine's ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets denied the allegations of torture and killings

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report documenting cases where the Armed Forces of Ukraine apparently violated the rights of Russian prisoners of war.

In the report published Friday, the OHCHR said that since the war began on Feb. 24, 2022, up to 25 Russian prisoners of war were arbitrarily executed by members of Ukraine's Armed Forces. In addition, Ukraine also tortured or sexually abused over 110 Russian POWs.

"We are deeply concerned about the summary execution of up to 25 Russian POWs and persons hors de combat by Ukrainian armed forces which we have documented. This was often perpetrated immediately upon capture on the battlefield," the OHCHR stated.

"Almost half of the 229 Russian POWs who we interviewed spoke of being tortured or ill-treated by members of Ukrainian armed forces and the SBU, and to a lesser extent penitentiary staff. The majority of these cases occurred during the initial stages of apprehension and interrogation. POWs were beaten, shot in the legs, stabbed in their limbs, electrocuted, subjected to mock executions, threats of sexual violence or death," the report continued.

In comparison, the OHCHR said Ukrainian POWs who surrendered to Russian forces were treated better at the beginning of their captivity. However, the majority of Ukrainian prisoners of war were later subjected to torture by Russian soldiers in hopes of extracting military information. Forms of torture included electrocution and being shot or stabbed in the legs.

The OHCHR noted that mock executions were also a common practice in Russian facilities where Ukrainian POWs were being held. The report documented that at least five Ukrainian POWs died in captivity due to a lack of access to medical care.

The OHCHR's monitors said their report was based on interviews with over 400 POWs, including Ukrainian POWs who were released and Russian POWs still in Ukrainian custody. The monitors said Russia refused to give them "confidential access" to POWs.

In response, Ukraine's ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets denied the allegations of torture and killings, adding that Kyiv "adheres to the Geneva Conventions" and said no issues related to the treatment of Russian POWs were raised during repeated meetings with Matilda Boger, the head of the UN Human Rights mission in Ukraine.

Ukrainian prisoners of war are seen during a swap in an unknown location in Ukraine