NewsWorldBertolotti (Ispi): "Russia could 'mediate' to free Azovstal prisoners"

Bertolotti (Ispi): “Russia could ‘mediate’ to free Azovstal prisoners”


The real question about the long siege of the Azovstal and its surrender, the fall of the last bastion of the defense of Mariupol, is what will become of the soldiers who until the day before yesterday were barricaded in the former Ukrainian steel plant. What Russia will do with them, whether they will be more useful alive than dead and whether they will be subjected to a regular trial and their detention respects international prisoner of war law or not, all this will also depend on reasoning of expediency. This was stated by speaking with Adnkronos Claudio Bertolotti, analyst of the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), according to which “the fact that the prisoners are not detained in Russia, but in two villages of the Donetsk People’s Republic, could allow to Moscow not to enter directly into the question, leaving the burden of managing the sanction or penalty to the self-proclaimed republic. It is a choice of opportunities that Russia could put on the negotiating table by proposing itself as a facilitating intermediary for their release. A situation that we could define as paradoxical and which seems to have been created ‘ad hoc’ to exclude Russia from obvious consequences in terms of international law. But we know that in war every opportunity is seized, in this case that of obtaining some concession on a future negotiating table ”. “According to international law – recalls Bertolotti – prisoners of war must not be subjected to ill-treatment and torture and should be placed under control and interface with the international committee of the Red Cross. This is a responsibility that the authorities holding prisoners of war must respect, according to the Geneva convention. Here, however, the real problem arises, given that Russia has not formalized the state of war with Ukraine, always insisting on the special military operation. This solves Moscow’s problems in terms of internal political management of the Ukraine dossier but not on the level of international law, according to which the safeguarding and protection of prisoners’ lives rests with the government authority that holds those people ”. A responsibility that, as mentioned, Russia could delegate to Donetsk, only to then propose itself as mediator for a subsequent release of the prisoners in exchange for concessions at the negotiating table. “However, if it is true that here we are not speaking formally of prisoners of war – the analyst notes – as there is no formal state of war, we are in any case facing a substantial state of war. However, these people, although not falling into the category of prisoners of war, they enjoy their same rights. “” Another important aspect – the ISPI researcher points out – is that Russia has often spoken of ‘terrorists’ referring to the fighters of Mariupol and in particular to the members of the Azov Battalion, which also includes ideologically aligned subjects on neo-Nazi positions. And the narrative of the Russian war, of the special operation in Ukraine, has insisted very much on the neo-Nazi question, on the liberation of the populations of Ukraine from Nazism. in any case, it would not have any consequences with respect to the rights of fair and equitable treatment. Russia would in any case have the duty to protect its jurisdiction or guardianship. Looking to the future, I think that these prisoners will serve Russia more alive than dead, if only to inflict exemplary sentences on some of them, the most exposed prisoners in terms of military responsibility or from a media point of view. The same goes for the authority of the Donetsk People’s Republic, which has the same responsibilities as anyone holding prisoners ”. (by Cristiano Camera)

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