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Drone Footage Allegedly Shows 30th Mechanized Brigade in Ukraine Dropping Grenades on Surrendering Russian Soldier

A video posted to X and shared by Telegram channel “Aerobomber” with a description in Ukrainian text that reads “We destroy a horde of bastards with drones” appears to show an egregious violation of the Geneva Convention, if the footage is authentic.

This telegram channel has frequently posted videos depicting cowardly drone strikes on individual soldiers and small groups, all bearing the 30th Mechanized Brigade logo in the top right corner.

This video, one of the few that does not feature the emblem mentioned above, displays overhead footage taken from a drone of a soldier in an open area.

The drone drops an explosive device on the soldier’s position, wounding them.

After an edit, the soldier is seen lying on the ground and waving their hands in surrender while pointing to their leg with what appears to be a field tourniquet they had applied.

As they try to escape the blast radius, another ordinance is dropped by the drone before detonating.

Once again, the soldier can be seen frantically waving his arms in surrender as the drone, shockingly, drops a third explosive device on his location.

**Warning: the video in the X post below contains graphic images**

According to the Basic Rules of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), this is a violation of the international humanitarian law in armed conflicts.  The ICRC document states:

Summary: Basic rules of international humanitarian law in armed conflicts
1. Persons hors de combat and those who do not take a direct part in hostilities are entitled to respect for
their lives and their moral and physical integrity. They shall in all circumstances be protected and treated
humanely without any adverse distinction.
2. It is forbidden to kill or injure an enemy who surrenders or who is hors de combat.
3. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for by the party to the conflict which has them in its
power.  Protection also covers medical personnel, establishments, transports and equipment. The emblem of the red
cross or the red crescent is the sign of such protection and must be respected.

Another ICRC document states “a combatant is Hors de Combat if:

  1. he is in the power of an adverse party;
  1. he clearly expresses an intention to surrender; or
  2. he has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and is therefore incapable of defending himself.

Provided that in any of these cases he abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape, he may not be made the object of attack.”

Cambridge University Press also published The Rules of Surrender in International Humanitarian Law, which states:

“It is inconvertible that under international humanitarian law it is unlawful to directly target an enemy who has surrendered.

The argument was posed in the comments of the X post that the drone cannot detain the soldier and therefore he cannot surrender.  To the contrary, detainment is not a requirement for surrender according to the above-mentioned ICRC casebook, citing the ICRC’s “Customary International Humanitarian Law Volume I”:

“The rule of surrender does not require the opposing force to detain surrendered persons as prisoners of war (although they can if they wish)”

Given that the United States is providing billions of dollars to Ukraine in a conflict that most of its citizens do not support, it is essential that investigations are conducted to ensure the Geneva Convention is being adhered to with regards to international humanitarian law.

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Joe Messina

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