Decks of playing cards with pictures of suspected Russian war criminals are on their way to Ukrainian soldiers, replicating an idea used in the Iraq war.
General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, announced in a Facebook post on Friday the release of the two bridges which he said were developed by the non-profit international intelligence organization InformNapalm. The cards come as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters a phase that draws more attention to alleged atrocities committed by Russian forces.
Writing in the message, Zaluzhnyi said the US Army’s Central Command distributed decks of playing cards to troops containing information on high-ranking members of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime. Released in 2003 after US-led forces overthrew Hussein, the maps included the title, name and, in some cases, a photo of wanted officials who could be spotted by troops in the area.
Zaluzhnyi said InformNapalm volunteers this year continued the tradition of developing similar maps with support from the Ukrainian military. The cards contain information about “Russian war criminals and Russian politicians and propagandists”, he said.
The post included a picture of a delighted Zaluzhnyi standing next to a box full of decks of cards.
“Do you know all those who have committed war crimes on the territory of Ukraine? InformNapalm said in a post on its Instagram page. “We know and we’ll show you,” the group added, including a smiling emoji wearing sunglasses.
As the conflict continues into its second month and Russian forces have turned to southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, Western governments and advocacy groups have sounded the alarm over the alleged war crimes committed by Russia.
Amnesty International released a report last week detailing what it says is evidence of unlawful Russian attacks on civilians in an area northwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Calls have also been made to the US Congress for social media platforms to store evidence of alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
News of the card games release comes the same day the trial of a Russian soldier accused of killing an unarmed civilian began in the Ukrainian capital.
The card game depicting Iraqi officials has quickly become a popular collectible, according to the US military newspaper stars and stripes. The idea of using playing cards among troops to impart key military intelligence was used as early as the Civil War. During World War II, the Army Air Corps distributed bridges depicting silhouettes of German and Japanese fighter aircraft, which are now also collectibles.
In recent years, the US military has distributed decks of playing cards depicting Iran’s military weapons.
It is unclear who is featured prominently on card games featuring suspected Russian war criminals.
Newsweek has contacted InformNapalm for comment.