Russians discuss killing civilians in German intelligence radio intercept

BERLIN – German foreign intelligence claimed to have intercepted radio communications in which Russian soldiers were discussing indiscriminate killings in Ukraine.

In two separate messages, Russian soldiers described questioning and then shooting Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, according to an intelligence official familiar with the findings who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

results first mentioned By the German magazine Der Spiegel and confirmed by three people who saw the information, it further undermines Russia’s denial of its involvement in the massacre. Russia has variously claimed that atrocities are committed only after its soldiers have left occupied areas or after scenes of massacres of civilians have been “masterminded”.

More horrific scenes emerge from Bucha, Ukraine, where local authorities have begun examining hundreds of bodies. (Video: Joyce Koh, George Ribas/The Washington Post; Photo: The Washington Post)

Pictures from Buchaa suburb of the Ukrainian capital, has become symbols and poignant appeals to the atrocities of war sensors into possible war crimes. One person said the radio messages are likely to provide a deeper insight into suspected atrocities in other towns north of Kyiv that have been held by Russian soldiers.

In Bucha, the scope of Russian barbarism began to focus

The intelligence official said that Germany had satellite imagery indicating Russia’s involvement in the killing of civilians in Bucha, but that the radio broadcast had not been linked to that location. Two people said the foreign intelligence agency, known as the BND, might be able to match signal information with video clips and satellite imagery to make connections to specific killings.

These people also said wireless traffic indicates that members Wagner Groupa special military unit that has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies, played a role in the attacks on civilians. Another person familiar with the intelligence said the Wagner Group or another private contractor might be involved.

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German intelligence officials on Wednesday briefed members of at least two parliamentary committees on the findings, according to people familiar with the operation.

“The reported atrocities have affected the members of the relevant committees as they have been reported very strongly,” said one person familiar with the intelligence.

Another person said the agency had great confidence in the results, although it wasn’t specific about how it obtained the radio communications. The third person said the information contributes to an understanding of situations within the Russian military but is hardly “the ultimate clue as to who shot at whom and at what time.” This person said that the examples discussed by the German Federal Intelligence Service indicated an atmosphere of panic, which prompted soldiers to “cut corners”.

Alex Whiting, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School who previously coordinated investigations at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, said the main question to distinguish from intercepted communications is whether the soldiers were “acting according to some plan or some general directive.”

“The mere fact that they are going to talk to each other about these killings indicates that and would disprove any suggestion that these were some kind of random and spontaneous event,” he added.

The International Criminal Court said on February 28 it was investigating possible war crimes in Ukraine. Experts tell The Post how the legal process works. (Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post; Photo: The Washington Post)

Russian forces’ reliance on unsecured communication devices, including smartphones and push-to-talk radios, has left their units vulnerable to targeting, and Western defense and intelligence officials. Say.

A spokesman for Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service declined to comment. On Wednesday, government spokesman Stephen Hebestreet cited “credible indications” that Russian forces in Bucha were interrogating prisoners “who were later executed”. He only cites “the visions we have”.

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President Biden and others have called for Putin to be prosecuted for war crimes, as have prosecutors in Ukraine and across Europe. Evidence gathering of abuses on the battlefield. The International Criminal Court is Investigationas well as the national authorities.

Last month, Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into suspected Russian war crimes, saying it was studying attacks on Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. Germany relies in its investigation on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which gives national courts the power to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by foreign nationals on foreign soil.

This principle, which allowed Israel to prosecute Adolf Eichmann in 1961, was recently used by Germany to prosecute crimes committed in Iraq and Syria, including by a former intelligence official in the regime of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. The official was Anwar Raslan convicted Crimes against humanity in the world’s first trial of state-sponsored torture under Assad’s rule. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Claire Parker in Washington contributed to this report.

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