The United Nations has said it is "deeply concerned" by what it described as summary executions of prisoners of war (PoWs) carried out by Russian and Ukrainian forces on the battlefield.

The head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, said her organisation had documented killings, often on the battlefield, by both sides in recent months.

She was speaking following the release of two reports by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) into the death of civilians in Ukraine and the mistreatment of PoWs.

The report, detailing the mistreatment of PoWs, documented the summary execution of 15 Ukrainian PoWs and 25 Russian PoWs, which the organisation said "may constitute war crimes".

It stated the findings were "influenced in substantial measure by the level and kind of access to detention facilities and PoWs".

Ms Bogner said the UN were "deeply concerned" about documented cases of summary executions of Russian PoWs and injured soldiers by Ukrainian armed forces.

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"This was often perpetrated immediately upon capture on the battlefield", she said.

Ms Bogner added that the organisation was aware the Ukrainian authorities were investigating five of these executions, however she said the organisation was "not aware of any prosecution of the perpetrators".

Ms Bogner also expressed the UN's "deep" concern over "the summary execution of 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war shortly after being captured by Russian armed forces".

She said the Wagner mercenary group was responsible for 11 of the executions.

Ukraine and Russia have both accused each other of mistreating PoWs since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.

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Civilian deaths

The OHCHR report documenting civilian deaths stated that between 1 August 2022 and 31 January 2023 at least 5,987 civilians had been killed or injured.

It said the figure was a significant underestimate as it only contained cases the organisation was able to verify.

According to the report, more civilian casualties occurred in territory held by Ukraine than areas held by Russia.

Additionally, it stated that a majority of the 133 instances of conflict-related sexual violence, documented by OHCHR, took place in Russian-occupied territory.

Russia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva did not comment on the findings.

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its armed forces have committed crimes during the invasion, which it claims is a "special military operation".


The report also documented the disappearances or "arbitrary detention" of 214 Ukrainians in Russian-occupied territory.

Last week, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed crimes

The Kremlin called the ruling unacceptable and outrageous.

Moscow has not concealed a programme under which it has brought Ukrainian children to Russia. It refers to this process as a humanitarian campaign to protect children.

There were 91 documented disappearances in Ukrainian-held areas.

Most of those arrested by Ukraine were suspected collaborators, the report stated.

Ukraine did not comment on the report.

In both reports, the OHCHR called on "all parties" to protect victims and punish perpetrators.