Geolocated footage shows Russian servicemen shooting three Ukrainian soldiers whom Russian forces captured in a tree line west of Verbove (east of Robotyne). The video later depicts one Russian soldier shooting an already dead Ukrainian serviceman again at close range, the Institute for the Study of War reported.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office announced that it opened an investigation into Russian forces violating the laws and customs of war in addition to premeditated murder.

According to the investigation, in December 2023, during a military clash with the Ukrainian Defence Forces near the village of Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Russian army servicemen captured three Ukrainian defenders. An hour later, in violation of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the occupiers shot them dead.

Article 3 offers an international minimum protection to persons taking no active part in hostilities, including members of armed forces in certain situations specifically stated in the article. Humane and non-discriminatory treatment are two important protections offered under this provision.

This isn’t the first time that Russian military personnel have violated the Geneva Conventions by subjecting Ukrainian POWs to torture or execution.

This is the second case in December when video footage of alleged executions of POWs appeared.

Russian telegram channels shared the drone video. It shows several soldiers and what appears to be three prisoners on their knees with their hands behind their heads. They are being shot, although they pose no danger.

The Russian side has not officially commented on this information.

Positional fighting is currently taking place near Robotyne. The Ukrainian Armed Forces liberated the village in August after the start of the summer offensive. However, the Russians have made some headway in the Robotyne area recently.

The ISW also disclosed that Russian forces had made progress in the western region of Zaporizhzhia, reclaiming positions that Ukraine had seized during the counteroffensive in the summer of 2023, likely following the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces to more defensible positions for the winter near Robotyne.

Geolocated footage indicates a recent eastward advancement of Russian forces beyond Robotyne. Moreover, a Ukrainian military official, interviewed by BBC and published on December 27, mentioned that Russia not only aims to reclaim Avdiivka but also intends to seize control of the entire Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts while recapturing parts of Zaporizhia Oblast lost during the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Read the story: Kremlin likely aimed to occupy Avdiivka and Kupiansk before elections in March 2024 – ISW.

The Kremlin may be using Putin’s military-focused announcement to convince this large group of voters that the Russian military supports Putin. Putin’s announcement may alternatively aim to demonstrate that he has the support of the Russian military to make any further discussion of the war in Ukraine during his campaign unnecessary.

Russian authorities tasked its military with capturing Avdiivka, and possibly Kupiansk, before the March 2024 elections, and this exhibition of the military’s support for Putin’s candidacy is perhaps meant as a hedging strategy should the Russian military be unable to meet these given deadlines.