Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday condemned a video circulating online that the country’s security services said showed a Ukrainian being beheaded by «Russian occupiers.»
“There is something that no one in the world can ignore,” Zelenskyy said in Ukrainian in a video posted on his Telegram channel.
«We are not going to forget anything,» he added. “There will be legal liability for everything.”
Footage seen by NBC News shows a man repeatedly saying «it hurts» as another man wielding a small knife appears to cut the man’s neck.
Another man says to the one with the knife in Russian: “What, you’ve never cut off a head before? Do it, do it, do it.»
Once the beheading is finished, the man who wields the knife shows the dead man’s head to the camera.
What appears to be a Ukrainian identification document can be seen on the ground next to the victim’s body, while an attacker holds a bulletproof vest with patches of the Ukrainian coat of arms and a skull.
NBC News was unable to independently verify the identity of the people in the video, their location, or the date it was filmed.
Zelenskyy has described the victim as a «Ukrainian captive.»
The Ukrainian Security Service said the video showed «Russian occupiers… severely torturing a Ukrainian prisoner and cutting off his head.» NBC News has not been able to verify this allegation.
The Ukrainian government said it had launched a war crimes investigation after the video surfaced online on Tuesday.
When asked about the video on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it «appalling.»
«In the world of fakes we live in now, it is necessary to verify the authenticity of this video,» he added.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russia-based Wagner mercenary group that has a large presence in Ukraine, said in a statement on his Telegram channel that he had seen the video but had not found that any of his fighters were «participating in the execution». .”
His comments came after Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, challenged Russia’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council, which he took over this month, on Telegram. The presidency rotates alphabetically each month among the 15 members.
Russia took over the presidency after the International Criminal Court, which is not associated with the UN, issued an arrest warrant last month for Russian President Vladimir Putin, charging him with the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.
Russia, in turn, accused Ukraine of war crimes and the West of ignoring them.
In November, the Kremlin said that Ukrainian soldiers had executed more than 10 Russian prisoners of war. You have not provided any proof for this or any other claims.
The footage that emerged Tuesday was the second apparent execution video to surface in just over a month. In March, graphic images circulated on social media showing what the Kiev military said Russian forces killed an unarmed prisoner of war.
The 12-second video showed a man dressed in what appeared to be a soldier’s camouflage uniform with Ukrainian flag insignia, holding a cigarette in his mouth.
After he quietly said, «Slava Ukraini» or «Glory to Ukraine», shots were heard almost immediately; the shooters were not shown. The man then falls to the ground.
The Ukrainian army named the man as Tymofiy Mykolayovych Shadura. He was a member of the 30th Separate Mechanized Brigade which had been missing in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut since early February, the army said in a statement. facebook post.
kyiv accused Kremlin forces of committing atrocities during the war and urged international action to hold them accountable. More than 74,500 such atrocities have been reported in Ukraine since Russia invaded, the attorney general’s office in kyiv said last month.
Mass burial sites in the city of Mariupol, as well as in the cities of Bucha and Izyum, are among the areas being investigated for possible war crimes.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in February, Vice President Kamala Harris said that Russia had committed «crimes against humanity» in its war against Ukraine, adding that «justice must be done.»
Sean Nevin and jamie gray contributed.