Ukraine investigates alleged beheading of captured soldier by Russian forces

Kiev has launched a new war crimes investigation against Russian forces and called for coordinated international action after videos shared on social media appear to show the beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of war.

“This video, the execution of a Ukrainian captive. . . The world must see it. This is a video of Russia as it is,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video. address dubbed in English.

“This is not an episode . . . this was the case in Bucha. Thousands of times,” Zelenskyy said on Wednesday, referring to allegations of mass executions and atrocities against civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. and other regions since the launch of Russian President Vladimir Putin. his full-scale invasion of Ukraine More than a year ago.

International leaders “must react” to help Ukraine complete “the defeat of terror”, Zelenskyy added. In a Twitter post, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the video as “horrible” and said “it’s absurd that Russia . . . chairs the UN Security Council. Russian terrorists should be expelled from Ukraine and the UN.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested on Wednesday that the beheading videos could be fakes.

“We live in the world of fakes, so it is necessary to confirm the authenticity of these horrific images. And then it can become a reason to investigate where it took place and by whom,” Peskov said.

The video first appeared on the Telegram messaging app. In the minute-and-a-half-long video, a Russian fighter in camouflage slashes a Ukrainian soldier’s neck with a knife. Another man speaking in Russian is heard off camera encouraging his colleague. A bulletproof vest adorned with Ukrainian military patches lies nearby. The video ends with the Russian fighter raising the Ukrainian’s head towards the camera. The foliage in the video suggests it could have been filmed last summer or early fall. The exact time and location in Ukraine are unknown.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, shared a blurry version of the video on Twitter.

“I’m sure this isn’t the last video from one of the [conflict] parties killing a prisoner of war,” said a message on the Gray Zone Telegram channel, which is closely linked to the paramilitary group Wagner fighting in Ukraine. Wagner is led by a close Putin aide, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

“In times of war, the heads, ears and other organs of enemies are cut off. . . It’s bad, but it’s the price of war,” he added.

Several Russian far-right and neo-Nazi groups with channels on Telegram, including the extremist military group Rusich, promoted the video on their networks.

“You will be surprised how many of these videos will gradually appear,” said a Rusich channel that shared the video, adding a smiley face emoji.

Ahead of Zelenskyy’s speech, Vasyl Malyuk, head of Ukraine’s state security service SBU, said in a statement that a preliminary investigation had been opened into the alleged beheading, while pledging to hold the culprits accountable.

Ukrainian and international authorities are investigating dozens of war crimes allegedly committed by Russia against Ukrainian civilians and soldiers, including the execution of Oleksandr Matsievskyi, prisoner of war, earlier this year for chanting “Glory to Ukraine”. Zelenskyy posthumously awarded the title Hero of Ukraine to Matsievskyi, a sniper from a territorial defense brigade operating in Chernihiv north of Kiev.

A video shared last November showed Russian Wagner fighters killing a deserter with a mace.

Last month, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin and another senior Russian official for deport Ukrainian children to Russia. The incidents occurred mainly in the eastern and southern regions where Russian forces continue to occupy around 18% of Ukrainian territory.

In his speech, Zelenskyy offered to mobilize Ukrainians as the country’s armed forces continue to receive new shipments of NATO-grade weapons from Western donors ahead of a counteroffensive planned for the spring.

“In Ukraine, we have to focus as much as possible on the front line. Expelling the occupier from our land,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the main goals were “defeat of the occupier, convictions for murder; [a war crimes] court of the evil state”.

Additional reporting by Polina Ivanova and Anastasia Stognei

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