SCOTT TAYLOR: Canadians do not tolerate violations of the Geneva Conventions
Last week, the press office of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa distributed a collection of video links to Canadian media.
In total, there were 15 separate video clips, all of which contained alleged atrocities committed by Ukrainian soldiers against Russian POWs.
To my knowledge, no Canadian outlet has aired these gruesome scenes for the simple reason that they are so graphic that even a warning to viewers about the content would not be enough to avoid trauma.
One of the clips is a literal “snuff movie” in which a Ukrainian kidnapper repeatedly stabs a bound Russian prisoner in the throat and chest. The Russian screams in fear and pain, then lowers his head dying. The jubilant Ukrainian then brandishes his bloody dagger towards the camera and shouts “Slava Ukraine!”
There are a number of such videos that show petrified Russian soldiers shot dead while bound in captivity.
Some clips show seriously injured Russians being executed instead of receiving medical treatment, while others reveal bloodied and bruised Russian prisoners being physically tortured and tormented.
By illustrating these atrocities committed by Ukrainian soldiers, the Kremlin may think it is invoking some sympathy for these young men serving in the Russian army.
Another common theme of these videos is that of Ukrainians desecrating the corpses of dead Russian soldiers. In one such scene, more than one Ukrainian soldier urinates on the snowy face of a dead Russian infantryman.
In one particularly disturbing clip, a Ukrainian soldier is filmed stabbing his dagger into the eye socket of a dead Russian soldier.
The Ukrainian terrorist tactic has also been illustrated in which they take the mobile phones of dead Russian soldiers and then use them to call the family of the deceased in order to taunt them that their loved one has been killed.
I have to believe that the reason behind the Russian Foreign Ministry’s decision to release these videos was to undermine the current overwhelming popularity of Ukrainian defenders with the Canadian public.
By illustrating these atrocities committed by Ukrainian soldiers, the Kremlin may think it is invoking some sympathy for these young men serving in the Russian army. If so, they forget the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine. Sorry, Vladimir Putin ordered his commanders to conduct a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
No one can justify the execution of prisoners or the desecration of corpses by the Ukrainian military, but these Russians would not have been captured or killed had they not been deployed to Ukraine in the first place.
By illustrating these atrocities committed by Ukrainian soldiers, the Kremlin may think it is invoking some sympathy for these young men serving in the Russian army. If so, they forget the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine.
It’s also been a wildly divergent course in public relations since the early days of the invasion when the Russian media proclaimed an almost bloodless liberation.
While the Russian offensives were halted and then repelled by the Ukrainian defenders, even Putin’s spokesman had to admit that their losses had been “significant”.
Now the Kremlin is sending out videos of its soldiers being humiliated and brutalized by victorious Ukrainians.
You would think that such images would be ruthlessly suppressed and vehemently denounced as a “hoax” by the Russian authorities.
It will be quite difficult for the Kremlin to question the authenticity of these video clips when it is their own embassies that are circulating them.
If it’s true that Putin is mobilizing reservists and conscripts to bolster his battered forces that continue to wage war in Ukraine, then these videos won’t be good for recruiting volunteers.
I can only imagine the impact such images would have on your average Russian soldier.
As for the Russian public’s reaction to these videos, one would think it would be one of initial revulsion at what the Ukrainians did to their soldiers, and then a sense of betrayal on Putin’s part.
Freed people do not execute their saviors and then urinate on their corpses.
An example of public outrage at seeing their soldier’s body desecrated by foreign fighters occurred during the US-led international intervention in war-torn Somalia. In October 1993, Somali insurgents shot down an American Black Hawk helicopter over Mugadishu.
Word quickly spread that the body of an American soldier was being dragged through the streets by an angry mob. Toronto Star reporter Paul Watson was in Mogadishu covering the war and he was able to take a picture of the US Army Staff Sgt. The body of William Dand Cleveland dragged and beaten by enraged Somalis. This photo was first published in the Star and then reprinted in many American newspapers.
This image won Watson a Pulitzer Prize and the public outcry forced American politicians to end the intervention. Many analysts believed that this single photo was what kept the United States from intervening to prevent the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
If a photo of the body of a single soldier being raped can cause the American population to protest against military interventions, I can’t wait to see the reaction of the Russian public to these 15 videos.
In the meantime, it would be wise for Canadians to tell our Ukrainian friends that violations of the Geneva Convention cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.