The devastation caused by the Russian war did not lose Vitaly.
“But we do our job because it’s our job and our duty,” he said, referring to the Hippocratic Oath that medical professionals abide by. “And of course, after they recover we can replace it. So I tell myself that this can help bring the Ukrainian soldiers back.”
Both Russia and Ukraine have held prisoners of war since Putin’s invasion began 12 days ago. The Ukrainian side has captured at least 245 Russian soldiers, according to a website of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Kyiv also published an open call for the mothers of captured Russian soldiers to come to retrieve them and bring them home. According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Facebook page, Russian prisoners of war will be released to their mothers if the women personally travel to Kyiv to meet their sons in person.
“We, the Ukrainian people, unlike Putin’s fascists, do not go to war with captured mothers and sons,” the ministry said.
But Ukraine has also released several shocking videos of captured Russian soldiers that experts in international humanitarian law have said may violate the Geneva Conventions.
In one of the videos, a Russian soldier who had a tape around his head to cover his eyes was forced to call his parents to tell them he had been captured. “No one knows anything. They just ordered us to invade Ukraine,” he told them.
Another video shows two seriously wounded Russian soldiers being interrogated in the bed of a pickup truck. Other photos show that Russian forces are making calls with the family and admitting to coercion.
“Prisoners of war and civilians in detention must be treated with dignity and absolutely protected from ill-treatment and exposure to public curiosity, including in publicly circulated images on social media,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a March 4 statement.
Anton Gerashchenko, an official with Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, told BuzzFeed News that the videos of Russian prisoners were justified due to the exceptional circumstances.
We have a people’s war going on. People are filming invaders killing Ukrainians and uploading them on social media. He said. “Let the Red Cross do its own business, help with humanitarian aid and evacuation corridors in besieged cities.”
The Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Office said that Russian soldiers are treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. “They are provided in particular with food, clothing and medical treatment, and they are kept in normal conditions,” she added.
Most of the civilian casualties recorded since the start of the Russian invasion, the UN human rights office said, “were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effect, including shelling with heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, rockets and air strikes.”