Date of Award

Spring 5-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor

Andrea Molle

Second Advisor

Mateo Jarquin

Third Advisor

Kyle Longley


The February 24th , 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent unresolved conflict it created has threatened the human rights of combatants and noncombatants alike on both sides, with discernable battlefield factors of Russia’s military failure contributing to human rights abuses and war crimes. Sixty interviews with Russian prisoners of war conducted by Ukrainian journalists published online were analyzed to determine which specific factors of Russia’s military failure contributed to human rights abuses and war crimes in Ukraine. Training, logistics and equipment, and the failure of the officer corps were identified as factors of military failure which contributed to human rights abuses and war crimes. Training was measured through the sub factors of insufficient training and correlation of the prisoner’s peacetime profession and military occupation at time of capture. Logistics and equipment were operationalized through the subfactors of inferior equipment and shortage of food, water, shelter, or ammunition. The failure of the officer corps was measured through the subfactors of officer absence, and conduct unbecoming of an officer. These factors of Russia’s military failure in Ukraine appear in prisoner of war interviews with varying levels of saliency, with insufficient training being the most prevalent factor with fifty five out of sixty prisoners of war reporting insufficient training. The temporal focus of this study extends from the initial invasion to early fall of 2023, thus spanning several major key phases of the conflict and including prisoners of war from a wide array of military, civic, and ethnic backgrounds. Russian prisoners of war report harrowing abuses against combatants and noncombatants alike, and the vi identified factors of this study serve as consistent linkage between Russian military failure and the prisoners’ testimonies of witnessing human rights abuses and war crimes. This work seeks specifically to give agency to the human rights of Russian combatants who are being forced to participate in the conflict against their will under threat of physical violence, and affirms conscientious objection as a human right.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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