Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Russian soldiers fighting against his country to surrender in remarks Monday, promising that Ukraine would treat them “decently” – a message at odds with Ukraine’s Armed Forces declaring on Facebook that surrendering soldiers would be “slaughtered like pigs.”

Page operators edited the threat on Facebook, posted on the official account of the Command of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in early March, after observers noted that not allowing opposing soldiers to surrender without being killed is a violation of international law. Facebook has since issued a statement saying it would allow calls to violence that normally violate its terms of service, but only in the context of support for Ukraine in the war with Russia.


Ukrainian social media accounts and state media outlets have since published images of alleged surrendering Russian soldiers, including most recently holding a press conference with five men identified as captured soldiers who effusively praised Ukrainian fighters and urged their countrymen to end the war.

“As before, the enemy is confused. They did not expect such resistance. They believed in their propaganda, which has been lying about us for decades,” Zelensky said in remarks Monday. “They still can’t recollect themselves. But they have already begun to understand that they will not achieve anything by war.”

Zelensky claimed Russian forces were “one of the suppliers of equipment to our army,” as Russian soldiers were abandoning their equipment in Ukraine to such a degree that they were actively arming the Ukrainians. Ukraine recently revised its tax code so citizens would not need to declare captured armored vehicles or other large-scale Russian military equipment.

“Have you captured a Russian tank or armoured personnel carrier and are worried about how to declare it? Keep calm and continue to defend the Motherland!” the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption announced in early March.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Monday, Zelensky addressed Russian soldiers.

“Why should you die? What for?” Zelensky asked them. “I know that you want to survive. We hear your conversations in the intercepts, we hear what you really think about this senseless war, about this disgrace and about your state.”

“I offer you a choice,” he continued. “On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I give you a chance. Chance to survive. If you surrender to our forces, we will treat you the way people are supposed to be treated. As people, decently.”

Zelensky offered Russian soldiers better treatment than in Russia and better treatment than what Russia offered captured Ukrainian soldiers.

Zelensky’s offer to treat Russian soldiers “decently” appears to be a pivot away from what Ukrainian social media accounts have offered the Russians in the past.

“From now on, there will be no more captured Russian artillerymen. No mercy, no ‘please do not kill, I surrender’ will not pass,” the official account of the Command of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted on Facebook in early March. The post threatened Russian soldiers would be “slaughtered like pigs” and referred to the Russians as “worms.”

“Call your mother one last time. Say you’ll die soon, jackal,” the post concluded. “We are not death, we are worse!”

The Facebook post was modified to remove the references to not accepting surrender shortly after it began garnering attention. The International Criminal Court (ICC) considers denying quarter, or killing an enemy surrendering in good faith, a war crime.

Facebook’s parent company “Meta,” Reuters revealed last week, told its employees that calls for violence “such as ‘death to the Russian invaders'” that it would normally censor would now be allowed on its platforms, including both Facebook and Instagram. A company spokesperson explained, “we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”

Facebook subsequently updated its allowance of calls for violence to exclude calls for violence against Russian strongman Vladimir Putin specifically – notably after Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged Russians to assassinate their head of government.

Ukrainian social media accounts have regularly posted photos of men that they claim are members of Russia’s armed forces. Breitbart News could not independent verify the identity of any of the men in the photos.

On Monday, the Ukrainian state media site Ukrinform reported that the government had organized a press conference featuring five men it claimed to be “captured Russian conscripts.” The men do not show any signs of overt injury in the photos published by the government outlet.

In the quotes shared by Ukrinform, the soldiers claim their government “deceived” them and extensively praise their captors.

We were taken prisoner near the city of Sumy. I thought that we would be beaten, humiliated, given no food or water in captivity,” one of the men, identified as “Private First Class Alexander Morozov,” allegedly said. “As a result, it turned out the opposite: we were given food, water, we had a place to sleep, we were given warm clothes.”

“Here the Armed Forces of Ukraine are trying to protect their country. We broke into their house like fascists. Not knowing the purpose, tasks. We are just being killed,” another one of the men, identified as “Private First Class Nikolay Polshchykov,” was quoted as saying.

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has illegally occupied its Crimea region since. In late February, Putin announced he would greatly expand military operations into the rest of Ukraine and recognize pro-Russian separatist groups as the governments of two sovereign “states” in western Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk. The Russian military has engaged in ongoing combat targeting major Ukrainian cities since, including the capital, Kyiv.

In announcing the operation, Putin declared that Ukraine as a state “was completely created by Russia” and has “no tradition” of sovereignty.” Other Russian officials have justified the attack by calling Zelensky a “neo-Nazi” and calling the war a “de-Nazifying” operation. Zelensky has denied the accusation, noting that he is Jewish and lost family in the Holocaust.

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