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Ex-Wagner officer says Kremlin ordered ‘atrocities’ in Ukraine

Ex-Wagner officer says Kremlin ordered ‘atrocities’ in Ukraine

by host

A man claiming to be a former Russian colonel and ex-member of the Wagner paramilitary group who fought in Ukraine and has since defected said he witnessed war crimes and child abductions.

Igor Salikov, who says he served in the Russian military and in the Wagner Group (which is funded by the Kremlin) for 25 years, arrived in the Netherlands on Monday to testify about alleged war crimes committed by Moscow during its war on Ukraine before the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), Dutch public broadcaster NPO1 reported.

“I witnessed atrocities against civilians,” the 60-year-old said during an interview, adding that he saw prisoners of war being abused and executed and children being abducted.

“I have seen people from the secret services take large numbers of children without parents across the border into Belarus,” Salikov said.

Salikov said those carrying out these alleged war crimes were doing so on the orders of the Russian defense ministry, but also on the direct orders of the office of President Vladimir Putin.

POLITICO could not independently verify these claims, however they are corroborated by numerous reports of alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

In March, the ICC issued an international arrest warrant for Putin over the forced transfer of children to Russia after the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

In parallel, Kyiv and several of its Western allies have been pushing for a tribunal to investigate Russia’s “crime of aggression” during the war.

Salikov said he fled the Russian forces after refusing an order to execute civilians, and that he now wants to report what he saw to the ICC because he has “lost faith in the Russian cause.”

He said he was also in Ukraine when the Kremlin’s forces invaded the eastern Donbas region in 2014, when he saw similar abuses, with “civilians being threatened and murdered.”

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