The UN on Friday accused Ukrainian and Russian forces of dozens of summary executions of prisoners of war since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

“We are deeply concerned about the summary execution of 25 Russian prisoners of war and out of combat”, as well as “15 Ukrainian prisoners of war”, said Matilda Bogner, head of the United Nations Human Rights Observation Mission in Ukraine.

According to Bogner, the executions of Russians by Ukrainian forces took place “often immediately after capture on the battlefield”.

The UN is aware of five investigations in Kiev into 22 victims, but “we do not know that the perpetrators have been prosecuted,” the UN official said.

The 15 documented executions of Ukrainian POWs were also carried out “soon after their capture”. eleven were committed by the Russian Wagner paramilitary militia, added.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of prisoner abuse.

The monitoring mission claimed in a report that members of the Ukrainian armed forces threatened Russian prisoners of war with death or sexual violence and carried out mock executionsin several cases as a form of “retaliation”.

“Sometimes officers beat prisoners of war saying, ‘This is for Bucha,'” the mission noted, referring to a town near Kiev where Russian troops were accused of committing atrocities.

“Before interrogation, they showed me a blood-covered ax as a warning,” said a Russian prisoner of war quoted in the report, who says he was tortured with electric shocks.

The report also denounces ill-treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war, including torture, denial of medical care – sometimes resulting in death -, sexual assault and deprivation of water and food.

The Ukrainian POWs claimed to have been tortured and ill-treated to obtain information or as a punishment. They described beatings with kicks, stabbings, electric shocks and strangulation.

“Some lost teeth or fingers, had broken ribs, broken fingers or noses,” the report said.

A Ukrainian soldier takes refuge in a trench near Bakhmut in the Donbas region on March 8, 2023. After a cold and snowy winter, the arrival of spring with rain and milder temperatures has brought back the mud on the battlefields of Donbas. Photo: — ARIS MESSINIS

In early March, a video showing the alleged execution of a Ukrainian prisoner of war by Russian soldiers rocked Ukraine.

In November, The Kremlin was outraged by two videos showing the alleged execution of a dozen Russian soldiers who had just surrendered to Ukrainian forces.

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Ukraine’s parliament human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets said on Telegram on Friday that he was “appalled” by the allegations against Ukrainian troops, saying he was not informed in advance.

Without directly denying the alleged violations attributed to the Ukrainian armed forces, he said he wanted to learn “the indisputable facts and arguments on which the conclusions are based” of the UN report.