Ukraine claims intercepted call shows Russians talking about executing prisoners

Servicemen of Donetsk People's Republic militia walk past damaged vehicles during a heavy fighting in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol
Alexei Alexandrov/Associated Press
Servicemen of Donetsk People’s Republic militia walk past damaged vehicles during a heavy fighting in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol

Ukraine’s defense intelligence has released what it claims is an intercepted voice recording of Russian forces discussing an order to kill Ukrainian prisoners of war in the city of Popasna in the Luhansk region.

In an audio clip shared on Twitter by Defence intelligence of Ukraine, Russian officials allegedly said, “Keep the most senior among them, and let the rest go forever. Let them go forever, damn it, so that no one will ever see them again, including relatives,” according to a translation provided by Ukrainian news outlet The Kyiv Post and CNN.

It is unclear from the recording if the alleged order refers to already captured Ukrainian soldiers or those who will be captured in the future.

In a message posted on Telegram, Ukraine’s defense intelligence called the alleged contents of the recording an “overt war crime, a brutal violation of the international law,” according to Ukrainian television news channel TSN.

Russia said Friday that its goal is to take “full control” over southern Ukraine as well as the eastern Donbas region.

Russian commander Rustam Minnekayev was cited by Russian news agency Tass as saying that Russia planned to take control of a land corridor between Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which Russia annexed in 2014, and the Donbas region.

Ukrainians in the Luhansk region have been urged to evacuate following Russian strikes targeting civilian infrastructure in the area.

The head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration wrote in a Telegram post on Monday that evacuations would occur that day from cities including Popasna, Rubizhne, Hirske, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

“Evacuate now, we can still save you,” Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram, according to a translation from CNN.

This news comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Russia has begun its battle for the Donbas region after regrouping ahead of an expected offensive there.

“It can now be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time,” Zelensky said in an address. “A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive.”

Ukraine has been preparing for a renewed offensive in the east after Russian forces withdrew from the area of capital city Kyiv earlier this month.

Tags Luhansk Popasna russia Russia Russia-Ukaine conflict Russia-Ukraine war russian invasion of ukraine Russian invasion of Ukraine ukraine Ukraine Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky

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