Last week, we wrote about allegations of war crimes leveled against Ukrainian troops attempting to take Russian prisoners in the village of Makiivka, in the Donetsk Oblast.  Ukrainian forces liberated the area in mid-November. The incident in question was shown in a video of Russian troops exiting a shed at a farmhouse in Makiivka and laying on the ground while at least 4 Ukrainian soldiers loosely covered them with their rifles.  One was lying on the ground with a belt-fed machine gun.  The 11th Russian to exit the shed was armed with a rifle and fired at the Ukrainian troops, allegedly killing one of them.  In the moments that followed the gunman along with the other 10 Russians were killed.

Russia accused the Ukrainians of “mercilessly shooting unarmed Russian P.O.W.s,” while Ukraine’s response was to assert that their troops acted in self-defense after one of the Russians opened fire on them while in the act of surrendering. SOFREP’s position was that the actions of the Ukrainian troops were justified. The Russian troops engaged in a war crime known as “perfidy” or feigning surrender to seek an advantage over an adversary and the POW status of the Russians on the ground was not clearly established.  While the Russian troops were on the ground and appeared to be unarmed, they had not yet been searched for weapons or secured in a manner that would place them in the actual custody and care of the Ukrainian troops as their captors.

Following the incident, social media channels like Twitter and Meta were full of reactions to the slaughter, this included Russian social media platforms like Telegram which is a hotbed of pro-Russian propaganda. As we reported at the time, Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation vowed retribution on behalf of Russia, “The Ukrainian military who shot the Russian prisoners deserves only the ‘death penalty,’ even if it takes years to find them.”

This prompted online speculation as to the identities of the Ukrainian troops fleetingly seen in the video. On Twitter, an anonymous pro-Russian account that also appears on Telegram calling itself @TrackAMerc claims that the image below of a Ukrainian soldier is actually photojournalist and US army veteran Chris Naganuma of Colorado.

The actual date of the death of these Russian soldiers is not precisely known. The first video of the incident appeared on Telegram on November 12th so it occurred either on or prior to that date.  The leafless condition of the trees suggests it was in the Fall season of this year.  On November 5th Ukraine’s army announced that in the area of Makiivka they had destroyed a battalion of troops from Russia’s Voronezh Oblast to the extent that it ceased to exist as a combat unit. There is information that suggests a second battalion of conscripts was also badly mauled trying to hold the line near the village.  By November 13th, Ukraine announced that it had ejected Russian forces and was in control of the village of Makiivka where the incident took place.