Authorities identify defiant Ukrainian POW executed by Russians
Key Developments on March 12:
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on March 12 confirmed the identity of a Ukrainian soldier who was executed by Russians after he said: “Slava Ukraini! (Honour of Ukraine)”, a Ukrainian national greeting. The execution was filmed and video of it was shared on social media on March 6.
For days there was speculation about the identity of the soldier in the video, as well as when and where the execution took place. The unknown soldier was praised for the calm he displayed as he faced the execution.
Finally, on March 12, law enforcement officials confirmed that the man captured in the video was Oleksandr Matsiyevsky, a sniper from the 163rd Battalion of the 119th Territorial Defense Brigade of the Chernihiv region.
The SBU said it conducted a forensic portrait examination of Matsievsky and contacted the soldier’s relatives.
According to the SBU, Matsiyevsky went missing in December 2022 near Krasna Hora, north of the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast. The soldier was reportedly killed on December 30 and his body was given to his family in February.
“This is a real hero who, despite his death, demonstrated to the whole world what Ukrainian character and resilience are,” said SBU chief Vasyl Malyuk.
The official said that the SBU is working to identify the Russians responsible for Matsievsky’s assassination.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy awarded Matsiyevsky the title of Hero of Ukraine.
“A man who will be known to all Ukrainians. A man who will be remembered forever – for his courage, for his faith in Ukraine and for his ‘honor to Ukraine,'” said Zelenskyy.
The family mourns the fallen hero
Matsiyevsky’s mother told Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne that she recognized her son immediately in the grainy video, especially from the way he was smoking.
Matsiyevsky, 42, worked as an electrician in Kiev.
When Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, he immediately joined the Territorial Defense Forces in the city of Nizhyn in northern Chernihiv Oblast, where his family lived, and defended the region with his comrades from the 119th Brigade.
At the end of 2022, his unit was transferred to Donetsk Oblast. He didn’t tell his mother that he would be deployed to one of the hottest areas of the front line — Soledar, a salt-mining town near Bakhmut that fell to Russian forces in mid-January after weeks of brutal fighting in the area. Suspilne reports.
Matsiyevsky’s mother last spoke to him on December 29, a day before the SBU said he was killed by Russians.
In February, his body was buried in a cemetery in Nizhyn, along with other fallen members of the Territorial Defense Forces.
Ukraine condemned the killing of Matsiyevsky and Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said the alleged execution of a captured Ukrainian soldier was a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The battle for Bakhmut continues
Heavy fighting continued in and around Bakhmut on March 11, according to Ukrainian officials and Western observers.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a DC-based think tank that analyzes the war in Ukraine, said March 11 that Russia had made no confirmed progress over the past day.
It predicted that the Russian Wagner Group fighters could be “increasingly pinned down” in urban areas such as the AZOM industrial complex and would therefore “find it difficult to make any significant advances”.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Military East Command, said on March 12 that Russia had attacked the Bakhmut area 39 times in the past day. He claimed Ukraine had inflicted significant personnel losses on the Russians.
As the battle for Bakhmut rages on, the civilian toll in Donetsk Oblast is growing.
The National Police of Ukraine reported on March 12 that in the past day Russia launched 48 attacks against civilians in Donetsk region using S-300 missiles, aircraft, Grad and Uragan multiple rocket launchers, artillery, mortars and tanks.
Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in his daily briefing on March 12 that two civilians had been killed and four injured in the past day.