New York Times Reports Allegations of Unarmed Russian POWs Being Executed by Western Mercenaries

A German combat medic who served in Ukraine described several executions of prisoners of war

According to a report published in the New York Times on Saturday, members of the so-called Chosen Company, an international mercenary group fighting for Ukraine, appear to be committing war crimes by killing wounded or surrendering Russian soldiers. The report cites a German battlefield doctor, Caspar Grosse, who served as a medic for the unit and witnessed these disturbing events firsthand.

In an article published on Saturday, the publication detailed Grosse’s account of an incident that occurred in August 2023, when a severely injured, unarmed Russian soldier, initially presumed dead, began crawling through a trench, pleading for help and surrender in English. However, a unit member shot him in the chest. The Russian soldier was still breathing and moving when another fighter fatally shot him in the head, which Grosse initially believed to be a mercy killing.

Grosse also described another incident involving a Greek soldier known as Zeus, who threw a grenade at two Russian soldiers. One of the soldiers was seriously injured and could barely move. The second soldier attempted to surrender with his hands raised, but the grenade explosion killed them both, according to helmet camera footage reviewed by the publication. Grosse added that a Ukrainian drone team confirmed at the time that the soldier was trying to surrender.

In a third incident that occurred in mid-October, Grosse received a text message from a member with the call sign Andok, who was in charge of the unit that day, stating that they had captured prisoners. The prisoners appeared to have been shot dead by Zeus, who later boasted about the killings.

“Today a good friend willingly executed a bound prisoner… As the prisoner was sitting in a trench blindage with his jacket draped over his shoulders, Zeus came up behind him and shot him in the back of the head multiple times,” Grosse wrote in his journal at the time, which was reviewed by NYT. Andok reportedly defended the murder by saying Zeus was “just doing his job.”

“I specifically said that, because I’m the medic, I want prisoners to be in my care and nobody gets to shoot them,” Grosse told NYT, stating that he was deeply disturbed by the incidents and had complained to Ryan O’Leary, the de facto commander of Chosen Company and a former US Army National Guardsman from Iowa. O’Leary denied that his “brothers” committed any war crimes.

According to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, “members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, or detention” should be treated humanely. Murder of all kinds, mutilation, and torture of prisoners constitute a war crime.

Following the NYT report, Russia’s ambassador-at-large for Ukraine’s crimes, Rodion Miroshnik, said Moscow will demand that international organizations with representatives in Ukraine verify this information. If confirmed, this would qualify “as a violation of the key norms and principles of humanitarian law, which refers to war crimes.”