A horrific video posted online on Thursday appears to show a Ukrainian prisoner of war being castrated by his Russian captors.
While Yahoo News cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video, the footage, which was initially posted on a pro-Russian Telegram page before spreading rapidly on social media, showed what appears to be a Russian soldier or mercenary wearing a distinctive black fringed hat, mutilating a man who appears to be a captured Ukrainian soldier.
The victim in the video wears Ukrainian-style camouflage fatigues and is shown gagged, his hands tied behind his back. He lies helpless on the floor as the man in a Russian uniform, which features a “Z” patch, uses a box cutter to cut off his clothes and then appears to castrate him while shouting degrading insults in Russian. At least two other men who appear to be Russian soldiers can be seen in the video.
While it is unclear when the video was filmed, what appears to be the same man wearing the black fringed hat also appeared in a June broadcast by the Russian state-backed media outlet RT. In that clip, the apparent soldier can be seen carrying a Dragunov sniper rifle as he walks around the Azot chemical plant in the city of Severodonetsk after the Ukrainian withdrawal from the city. In a post that was published on the RIA Novosti Telegram channel, the Russian news agency identified the man as part of the Chechen “Akhmat” battalion of the Russian army.
Russia has captured thousands of soldiers and volunteers in the five months since it launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. In mid-May, around 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered in what was the last stronghold of Mariupol. Many of the fighters who were holed up in the Azovstal steel plant were sent to a former prison colony located 55 miles north of the city. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had gathered personal information from the soldiers and registered them as prisoners of war as they left the steelworks, so as to ensure that they would be given humane treatment under the Geneva Conventions. The ICRC also told Russia it must be given “immediate access to all POWs in all places where they are held.”
Since the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine, there have been several accusations of war crimes made against Russian soldiers. Vladimir Putin’s government has categorically denied all of them.