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Russians and prisoners

The Russians have executed Ukrainian prisoners on two recent occasions, both caught on drone footage. The reason this is an incorrect action is that you should always make it easier for the other side to surrender—you should always give them a way out.

That usually means not to pin them down in a place where they cannot retreat, and also to offer them good treatment and a warm welcome if they surrender (“That’s right, boys—you don’t want to die for that clown Zelensky!”).

If you execute your prisoners and the other side finds out then you will make them fight with total determination—because it is only common sense. If you know the other side shoots its prisoners, why would you ever surrender under any circumstances (even the most desperate)?

It’s only common sense—you want to survive, and given the choice you will choose to fight on rather than be disarmed and shot.

The cumulative effect will be to make Ukrainian resistance more tenacious across the whole front—because people who might have otherwise given up will fight on, and fight harder, fight for their lives (for all they know).

These events happen in war—like a Royal Marine I met said, “They just wind you up, and when you go…you go.” However, drone warfare means events that were once not seen, or were only speculation, can now be seen—and that will change the incentives for the Ukrainian side (change them in favour of resistance in all circumstances).

Hence the Russians need to enforce greater discipline in this regard.

As for whether or not it is a “war crime”, I think that is immaterial—since these events have always happened in war, and so are customary.

However, from a realistic perspective—an effective (i.e. virtuous) perspective—these events are undesirable.


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