Where are the Ukrainian POWs?, by Jillian Kay Melchior, wsj editorial page writer
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently said Russia had taken nearly 6,500 Ukrainian soldiers prisoner since February, Voice of America reported. Ukraine said in early April that it held some 600 Russian POWs. The Ukrainian government is tight-lipped about negotiations for prisoner exchanges, and the families of Mariupol’s defenders say they don’t know how Russia has treated their loved ones. But Ukrainian human-rights activists say Russia routinely tortures prisoners of war, deprives them of necessities, and holds them in deplorable conditions.
Mariupol’s defenders included the Azov Regiment . . . and the 36th Marine Brigade. After enduring weeks of siege and brutal attack, the Ukrainian soldiers laid down their arms in hope of saving lives. Many civilians were successfully evacuated from the Ukrainian soldiers’ last stronghold in the city. Bohdan Krotevych, the Azov Regiment’s 29-year-old chief of staff, said last month that the Ukrainians proposed that Russia would receive their severely wounded soldiers and release them in a prisoner exchange.
The Russians said no — “either everyone or no one” would have to surrender. Mr. Krotevych told me by text message on May 18. “So we were faced with a very tough choice . . . Those with serious wounds were basically rotting away and slowly dying in our hospitals, while the enemy was robbing the humanitarian convoys with medicine.” By May 20 he had stopped responding to messages, and the press reported the soldiers’ surrender.
“The only comfort is they are no longer under direct threat of dying from combat,” says Maria Netreba, 24.— The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, June 14, 2022, p. A19