Any foreigners captured while fighting on behalf of Ukraine in their war against Russia won’t receive the type of Geneva Convention protections accorded to soldiers in combat, Kremlin officials said Thursday.
Russia considers any foreign volunteers answering Ukraine’s call for help as mercenaries and officials in Moscow said they would be “brought to justice.”
“At best, they can expect to be prosecuted as criminals,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, according to the official Tass news agency.
He accused foreign mercenaries of attacking the Russian military and supply convoys taking part in President Vladimir Putin’s week-old invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Mr. Konashenkov said such “acts of sabotage” are being carried out with weapons supplied by the West.
“None of the mercenaries the West is sending to Ukraine to fight for the nationalist regime in Kyiv can be considered as combatants in accordance with international humanitarian law or enjoy the status of prisoners of war,” Mr. Konashenkov said, according to Tass.
As to why there isn’t a rash of videos of the foreign volunteers on social media sites, he said the mercenaries prefer not to get in front of the cameras.
“We are urging all foreign citizens who may have plans to go and fight for Kyiv’s nationalist regime to think a dozen times before getting on the way,” Mr. Konashenkov said.
Ukrainian officials have lodged their own charges that Russian mercenaries are assisting in the invasion. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this week said the Russian private security firm The Wagner Group had hired mercenaries to try to assassinate him and other top figures in the Ukrainian government.