ZDVYZHIVKA, UKRAINE (AP) — The massacre left by Russian soldiers en route to Kyiv was no accident. It was a strategic atrocity, carried out in an area under heavy Russian control where military officers, including one of the commanders-in-chief of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were accused of war crimes in Syria. , found in a survey by the Associated Press and PBS series “Frontline”.
Troops moving from Belarus towards Kyiv had been ordered to intercept and destroy “nationalist resistance”, according to the Royal Union Service Institute, a London think tank that studied a copy of the Russian battle plan. . Using lists compiled by Russian intelligence services, soldiers conducted “zachistki” (clean-up operations) to clear neighborhoods to identify and neutralize potential threats. .
At the forefront of this war was Colonel Alexander Tchaiko, the leader of the Russian army in Syria who earned a worldwide reputation for brutality.
“Those orders were written at the Chaiko level. So he would have seen them and signed them up.
This article is part of an AP/FRONTLINE investigation that includes the War Crimes Watch Ukraine interactive experience and the PBS documentary “Putin’s Attacks on Ukraine: Chronicles of War Crimes.”
While the order was not necessarily illegal, it was often carried out in gross disregard for the laws of war, as Russian forces occupied territory throughout Ukraine.
Eyewitnesses and survivors of Bucha, Ozera, Babinutsi and Zdwizhivka, all in locations under Tchaiko’s command, told the AP and the “front line” that Russian soldiers may be supporting Ukrainian forces. After a precise attack on Russian positions and the screening of interviews and videos, the mopping-up intensified and intercepted phone calls obtained by the AP revealed that the soldiers loved He told people he was ordered to approach the suspected informant without mercy.
Ukraine has indicted Chayko on a broad crime of aggression – which is waging an illegal war on their territory. But more concrete evidence is needed to bring him to an international court. The prosecutor must prove that he played a key role in the implementation of illegal policies of the Russian Federation, or that he knows what his military is doing and cannot stop or punish their actions. I was in a position to
For now, Chayko — a man who has been implicated in some of the worst atrocities in both Syria and Ukraine — is still leading the army, once again as commander of Russian forces in Syria.
Here are four takeaways from our research:
mama i’m killing civilians
Russian soldiers openly discussed atrocities against civilians in phone calls with their mothers, wives and friends intercepted by the Ukrainian government near Kyiv.
On March 21, a soldier named Vadim told his mother:
“We have orders. It doesn’t matter if they are civilians. Kill everyone.”
The slightest movement of the window curtains — a possible sign of a spotter or gunslinger — justified slamming the apartment with a deadly cannon. Ukrainians, including teenagers, who confessed to passing on Russian military coordinates were summarily executed, soldiers said.
A soldier nicknamed Lyonya said in a March 14 phone call that “we have orders to shoot all of them directly instead of taking prisoners.”
“There was an 18-year-old boy who was taken prisoner. “We don’t take prisoners, which means we don’t leave anyone alive.”
The Dossier Center, a London-based investigative group funded by Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has confirmed the identities of the soldiers who made those calls.
responsible for the massacre of Buch
Ukrainian prosecutors said troops under Tchaiko’s command – the 76th Airborne Airborne Assault Division – were killed on March 4 on the most dangerous road in occupied Bucha, where an important Russian command center is located. It claims to have taken part in a deadly cleanup operation along one Jabrunska street.
In June the US State Department imposed sanctions on the division and its 234th Guards Airborne Assault Regiment and 64th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade for atrocities in Bucha.
These forces were under Chayko’s final command during the early weeks of the invasion, Ukrainian officials told The Associated Press.
Not the work of Rogue Soldiers
The Russians have turned the village of Zdvyzhivka, an hour north of Kyiv, into a major forward operating base for attacks on the capital. From 20 March he led the attack on Kyiv from this village until 31 March. Around the same time five men were tortured and murdered in the garden of a house frequented by Russian officers, he was found about a kilometer (less than a mile) down a heavily controlled road. Discovered. The transport of detained civilians to their homes occurred multiple times in broad daylight within the security structure set up by the occupying forces, witnesses said.
keep the boss happy
There is no indication that Chaiko denied what his army was doing. The Russian Ministry of Defense has released a generic video of pinning medals on Ukrainian soldiers. “Every unit, every department is doing what they’re told,” he said in a March 24 video. “They’re doing everything right. I’m proud of them.”
There is also no indication that Moscow has imposed sanctions for the highly public atrocities committed under Chayko’s watch. Instead, Putin praised Chaiko for his actions in Syria, awarding him the title of “Hero of Russia” in 2020 and promoting him to colonel in June 2021.
“Frontline” producers Tom Jennings and Annie Wong, co-producer Taras Razor, and AP reporters Richard Lardner, Janine Graham, and Solomia Hela contributed to this report.
To contact the AP investigative team, send an email to email@example.com.