Russia’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Ukraine at the last minute refused to carry out an earlier agreed exchange of prisoners of war.
Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow, Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, said Ukraine is violating the Geneva Convention regulating the rights of war prisoners.
"The Kyiv authorities have been disrupting the exchange of prisoners of war for a long time. The exchange of prisoners of war planned for today has also been disrupted by the Ukrainian side.
"The list of 251 servicemen declared for exchange was repeatedly shortened. The number of prisoners of war for the exchange was repeatedly reduced. The list agreed at the last stage in the amount of only 38 servicemen was also suddenly revoked this morning by the Ukrainian side without explanation," he said.
The sudden refusal to follow through with the exchange gives all reasons to think that something is wrong with the captured Russian servicemen, Mizintsev said.
"The Russian side has every reason to believe that there is something wrong with the servicemen of the Russian armed forces who are in captivity.
"In addition, it has been reliably established that Russian service members are subjected to torture, violence and intimidation, which in their inhumanity replicate the death squads’ actions during the Second World War, and all this is being widely published on the internet and in the mass media. Regrettably, these outrageous facts remain unnoticed by the global community, including the UN, the OSCE and the ICRC," he added.
Mizintsev noted that Western countries are not only aware of Ukraine's gross violations of international humanitarian law against Russian prisoners of war but are also trying to help the Ukrainian authorities avoid responsibility.
"The Kyiv regime notified the British Foreign Office on April 1 this year that it does not intend to comply with the Geneva Convention when treating Russian prisoners of war.
"In addition, the Ukrainian authorities are urging Western countries to encourage the International Committee of the Red Cross to abandon attempts to gain access to Russian prisoners of war," he said.
Mizintsev appealed to Germany, France, the UN, OSCE and Red Cross to intervene and demand that the Ukrainian authorities provide access to Russian prisoners of war by employees of the Red Cross.
He also warned that the Ukrainian authorities are preparing provocations in several settlements in the Sumy and Kyiv regions.
New staged videos were filmed in order to malign Russia and accuse it of war crimes, Mizintsev said.
Also, the Ukrainian military shelled the Derhaci settlement in the Kharkiv region and then filmed the destroyed buildings and "numerous victims" for distribution to the Western media, he said.
The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international outrage, with the European Union, US and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
At least 1,563 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,213 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.
More than 4.27 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.