The three videos show a soldier wearing what look like yellow and blue spots – the colors of the Ukrainian flag – on the ground, his hands tied behind his back, first gagged, then mutilated, then shot.
CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the videos that were widely circulated on social media after they first appeared on the pro-Russian Telegram channel. Nor did CNN independently verify the nationality of the perpetrators or the victim.
The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said it was appalled by the videos. “Torture and summary executions of prisoners of war and persons hors de combat are war crimes,” the monitoring mission said in a statement issued on Friday evening.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine said that it had launched a criminal investigation into the matter, “based on the results of the video processing, which shows how people in uniforms of the Russian Armed Forces torture a prisoner in the uniform of a soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Actions are being taken to establish all the circumstances of the crime. “.
The video that appears to appear first shows the victim being gagged and surrounded by at least four men, one of whom is dressed in what looks like a Russian uniform with a “Z” badge associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A second video clip shows the same man writhing on the ground as a man in blue surgical gloves and what appears to be a Russian uniform cut through the victim’s underwear with a box cutter. The man uses the same box cutter to testify, then raises his mutilated genitals to the camera. In the video, the perpetrators can be heard saying in Russian, “Catch him and detain him.”
The third video shows the mutilated man with bullets tied to his head and pulled away.
CNN has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment on the videos.
The UN Monitoring Mission said on Facebook that it was “horrified by the latest videos, which appear to show the beating, castration and shooting of a captured Ukrainian armed forces soldier by a man who appears to be a member of the Russian armed forces or is affiliated with armed groups.”
“In one of the videos, the tortured soldier appeared to have been shot in the head and his body pulled into a ditch. If confirmed, these acts would constitute war crimes,” he added.
“Unfortunately, this is only the latest episode in a series of videos that have documented the torture and extrajudicial killing of prisoners of war and persons hors de combat, perpetrated by the warring parties,” the UN Monitoring Mission said.
“The Human Resources Management Unit has publicly reported videos showing Ukrainian soldiers shooting in the legs of three captured Russian soldiers, and in a separate case shooting and killing a wounded Russian soldier,” the UN Monitoring Mission wrote.
“All parties must refrain from torture, killing and threatening not to abandon captured combatants. They must promptly and effectively investigate all allegations of torture and unlawful killings,” she added.
On Friday, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell strongly condemned “the illegal and unjustified aggressive war waged by Russia against Ukraine and its people is bringing more and more horrific atrocities day by day.”
“Evidence in the form of horrific video footage has been widely disseminated on pro-Kremlin social networks today, in which Russian soldiers commit heinous atrocities against a Ukrainian prisoner of war,” Borrell said in a statement.
Amnesty International has called for an investigation into the videos.
“This horrific attack is yet another clear example of the complete disregard for human life and dignity in Ukraine by Russian forces. All those suspected of criminal responsibility must be investigated,” said Marie Struthers, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.
“Since the start of the Russian war on Ukraine, Amnesty International has documented crimes under international law, such as summary killings of prisoners by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, and extrajudicial executions of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces,” she said.
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