Authorities have confirmed the authenticity of the video
Horrifying footage appearing to show a Ukrainian prisoner of war being castrated by his Russian captors has emerged on pro-Kremlin social media channels.
A group of soldiers can be seen in the video pinning a member of Ukraine’s armed forces to the ground, before using a box-cutting knife to remove his clothes and mutilating him.
It is unclear what happened to the Ukrainian soldier, but he is unlikely to have survived the injuries without immediate medical assistance.
The footage, which was initially shared on pro-Russian channels on the Telegram messaging app, has since been circulated on Twitter and pro-Ukrainian Telegram channels.
An adviser to the Ukrainian president on Friday confirmed the authenticity of the video and pledged to bring the perpetrator to justice.
“The world has to realise: Russia is a country of cannibals who enjoy torture and murder,” Mikhailo Podolyak tweeted.
“But the fog of war will not help to avoid punishment for the executioners. We will identify and get to each of you.”
Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun added: “Russia has to pay for it. Give Ukraine the weapons we need to stop this nightmare once and for all. The world can’t pretend like this isn’t happening.”
It is unclear when or where exactly the footage was recorded, but some of the Russian soldiers filmed in the clip have seemingly appeared in separate propaganda videos carried by Kremlin-controlled news agencies.
Since the gruesome footage was shared online, internet sleuths have attempted to identify the soldier, who was wearing a distinctive hat, responsible.
Aric Toler, of investigative website Bellingcat, wrote on Twitter that the unit had been spotted in Russian media reports from the captured Azov chemical plant in Severodonetsk, which was seized by Moscow’s forces in June.
The group of Russian soldiers is believed to be from the Akhmat Grozny special forces unit from Russia’s region of Chechnya. This unit has previously filmed themselves taking part in multiple operations as part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But the trousers worn by the perpetrator could also suggest the involvement of troops from the Rosgvardia unit – Russia’s national guard reporting directly to Vladimir Putin.
An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister published on social media what appeared to be extensive personal information and contact details for the suspected Russian soldier on Friday, but has since deleted the post.
In Russia-controlled Donetsk, separatist authorities on Friday accused Ukraine of shelling a prison colony where Ukrainian prisoners of war were kept in an attack that has since been heavily disputed.
At least 53 prisoners were killed and 75 more were injured, the Donetsk separatists defence forces claimed.
Footage released by Russian state TV on Friday appeared to show a prison compartment with charred bunk beds and other belongings scattered around. Body parts and shoes were seen strewn on the floor.
The separatists claimed that Ukrainian forces targeted the prison to punish the troops who allegedly surrendered and were going to testify against Ukraine.
“The criminal Kyiv regime is deliberately destroying Ukrainian fighters who surrendered in order to cover up traces of war crimes against civilians of the Donbas and force others to keep on fighting and not surrender,” it said.
Ukraine’s General Staff has disputed the attack and said on Friday it was Russian artillery that struck the prison in Olenivka.
“The Russian occupiers pursued their criminal goals: to accuse Ukraine of committing war crimes and hide the torture and executions of prisoners and executions,” the Ukrainian military said in a statement.