The question bothers me since February 2022. Why (legally) are Russian combatants in Ukraine considered soldiers (thus POWs when captured) rather than terrorists?
- There is no formal declaration of war.
- They are members an organization (Russian military) that commits acts of terrors to civilian population in clear violation of international law of war. Moreover, they either directly or indirectly contribute to the mentioned acts of terror.
- Their state (Russia) explicitly claims that there is no war (thus unilaterally waiving the protection of law of war for Russian forces).
Why is that particular group of armed people acting in clear violation of Ukrainian law treated as "soldiers in war" rather than state-sponsored criminals?
Note, that waiving the protection of law of war does not waive the protection of Ukrainian law (right to due process etc.).