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Wagner Group Accused of Beheading Ukrainian Servicemen

Wagner Group mercenaries have again been accused of war crimes in the Russia-Ukraine bloodshed, as videos purportedly show the remains of a Ukrainian soldier’s head on a spike.

The private military company has gained international attention since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Wagner forces have largely fought alongside the Kremlin’s troops, including taking a prominent role in the brutal months-long fight for the city of Bakhmut.

According to Monday’s assessment from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), members of the Wagner Group have reportedly committed war crimes in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city, according to videos posted by Russian social media users “purportedly showing the remains of a head belonging to a Ukrainian serviceman on a spike at an unspecified area in Bakhmut.”

“Social media users recalled similar instances of skulls mounted on spikes in Popasna, Luhansk Oblast, where Wagner troops operated over spring-summer of 2022,” the assessment read. “The Geneva Convention prohibits the mutilation and despoilment of dead bodies in war.”

Ex-Wagner soldier Andrei Medvedev, who fled fighting in Ukraine to seek asylum in Norway, told Reuters in February about crimes he witnessed the Wagner committing while he was fighting around Bakhmut. Medvedev said he saw two people shot in front of recently recruited prisoners for Wagner after the individuals refused to fight. He also told Reuters that he wanted to share his experiences so “the perpetrators are punished.”

Wagner forces have also been accused of human rights violations in other countries. In January, the United Nations (U.N.) called for an investigation into possible international crimes in Mali, where the Wagner Group has been conducting operations alongside the Malian military. Among the war crimes reported by the U.N. include “alarming accounts of horrific executions, mass graves, acts of torture, rape and sexual violence, pillaging, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances.”

In January, the White House designated the Wagner Group as a transitional criminal organization, The New York Times reported.

Former Russian Commander Igor Girkin also accused Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin of committing war crimes last month in a video message. Girkin claimed that Prigozhin’s “political ambitions” and “psychopathy” “only harm both Wagner and the common cause of victory over Ukraine.”

The Wagner Group was also accused of violating an article of the 1949 Geneva Conventions in January by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who said that the war in Ukraine had caused around $35 billion in environmental damage.

Russia is also not immune to similar accusations. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, accusing him in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Newsweek has reached out via email to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Source : Newsweek

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