Vladyslav Zhaivoronok and George Kuparashvili, two Ukrainian prisoners of war in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, discussed the horrors of war and the atrocities of human suffering in Russian war camps in a Newsmax exclusive Tuesday on "The Record with Greta Van Susteren."
Zhaivoronok and Kuparashvili were among the 215 POWs who were reportedly released in exchange for 55 Russian prisoners, along with Victor Medvedchuck, leader of the banned pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.
Zhaivoronok said he was only released due to his serious injuries and because he had no "value" to Russia in a potential prisoner swap; otherwise, he surmised, he would be kept as greater leverage in the war in Ukraine.
Van Susteren asked Zhaivoronok if the Ukrainian prisoners of war were treated humanely by the Russians.
Zhaivoronok had trouble answering the question, and Kuparashvili followed up saying "the treatment was bad, of course."
Kuparashvili then added, "To make a one-word statement, all the Geneva Conventions failed."
Prisoners, like Zhaivoronok, received no humane treatment and no education, says Kuparashvili.
Regarding medical care, Kuparashvili said the POWs were given minimal antibiotics, after one week of suffering without medical attention.
"The [Russian] medics were just trying to keep 'em alive on the level ... so the medics could find out as much as possible, to find who was he, is it valuable enough for them, or not, to exchange," said Kuparashvili, while noting Zhaivoronok had been "badly injured," compared to the other prisoners of war.
Zhaivoronok told host Van Susteren of own resiliency after losing a leg and no longer having vision in one eye, after enduring heavy combat with Russian troops, while Kuparashvili, who briefly trained in the United States before becoming a Georgian Special Operations Forces officer, described the physical and mental cost of being on the front lines of a horrific battle.
Among the released were fighters who led the defense of Mariupol's Azovstal's steelworks — an act of resistance that might forever be celebrated in Ukraine.
When asked about his experiences, Zhaivoronok was brief but direct in his responses to Van Susteren, saying, "I do my job. I was in Mariupol and Azovstal. I was captured twice. The first time, it was a light injury [shot in the arm]."
The second capture followed an explosion that led to the loss of Zhaivoronok's leg and vision in one eye.
When it came to speculating on the reasons for his eventual release, Zhaivoronok bluntly recalled, "It's because I'm not interesting for my enemy. ... I am a simple soldier."
The Geneva Convention involves four globally recognized treaties and three additional protocols that comprise the international legal standards for humanitarian treatment in war.
It extensively covers the basic rights of wartime prisoners (civilians and military personnel), established protections for the wounded and sick, and offers protections for the civilians in and around a war zone.
Also, the Geneva Convention document defines the rights and protections afforded to non-combatants.
Over the past seven months, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin have had to deal with accusations of the Russians intentionally bombing Ukrainian hospitals, featuring mostly civilians.
Kuparashvili is thankful for his military training in the U.S., saying he had connected with "many brothers-in-arms" during that period. He had been ramping up for potential military conflict in Ukraine since May 2014, preparing various military operations for battle.
At the time of his capture in the Russia-Ukraine war, Kuparashvili said he had been in Mariupol "cleaning the buildings," upon encountering a group of Russian soldiers.
The result: During gunfire, Kuparashvili received two bullet wounds to the chest.
Similar to Zhaivoronok's assessment of soldiers captured by the enemy, Kuparashvili said the Russian medics would keep a Ukrainian medical patient just well enough to see if that solider had any "value" later on, via prisoner swaps.
When asked if the Russian soldiers were enthused about fighting this war, Zhaivoronok quipped, "Definitely, yes ... they wanted to fight me."
Van Susteren then asked Zhaivoronok if he still had a thirst for battle, to defend his home country, despite sustaining life-changing injuries and living through the tortures of war.
Zhaivoronok's response: "I don't know if I can get back on the battlefield. But if I do something, I do it now."
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