The devastation of the war in Russia was not lost on Vitaly.
“But we do our job because it’s our job and our duty,” he said, referring to the Hippocratic Oath that medical professionals adhere to. “And, once they recover, we can exchange them. So I would say it helps to get the Ukrainian soldiers back.
Both Russia and Ukraine have taken prisoners of war since Putin’s offensive began 12 days ago. According to a website affiliated with the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, the Ukrainian side captured at least 245 Russian troops.
Kyiv has posted an open call for mothers of captured Russian soldiers to be retrieved and taken home. According to the Ukraine Defense Ministry’s Facebook page, Russian prisoners of war will be released to their mothers if the women travel to Kyiv to meet their sons in person.
“We, the Ukrainian people, contrary to Putin’s fascists, do not wage war with mothers and their captured sons,” the ministry said.
But Ukraine has also published several gruesome videos of captured Russian troops, which experts in international humanitarian law say may violate the Geneva Conventions.
In one video, a Russian soldier with tape wrapped around his head to cover his eyes is forced to call his parents to tell them he has been captured. “No one knew anything. They ordered us to invade Ukraine,” he tells them.
Another video shows two seriously wounded Russian soldiers being interrogated in the bed of a moving pickup truck. Others show Russian forces making calls to family and confessions under duress.
“Prisoners of war and civilian detainees must be treated with dignity and fully protected against exposure to public curiosity and public curiosity, including images circulated publicly on social media,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a March 4 statement.
Anton Gerashchenko, an official at Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, told BuzzFeed News that the videos of the Russian prisoners were justified due to the extraordinary circumstances.
“We have a people’s war going on. People are filming the attackers killing Ukrainians and uploading them to social media. This is their right,” he said. “Let the Red Cross mind its own business, helping with humanitarian aid and evacuation corridors in besieged cities.”
Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Service said Russian soldiers were being treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. “Specifically, they are given food, clothing and medical treatment and kept in normal conditions,” it said.
Most of the civilian casualties recorded since the start of the Russian occupation, the UN Human Rights Office, “caused the use of explosive weapons with a wide area of influence, including shelling by heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes.”