Disturbing footage appears to show Russian soldier castrating a Ukrainian prisoner who was reportedly later murdered.
The video, which first appeared on various Russian Telegram channels and was later shared to other social media platforms, shows a soldier approaching a bound figure lying face down, wearing blue and yellow patches.
The Russian soldier, wearing surgical gloves and wielding a knife, then cuts the backs of prisoner’s trousers before reaching down to mutilate the captive.
The genitals of the Ukrainian detainee, who was being restrained by several Russian solidiers wearing camoflage, are then shown to the camera.
Some reports have described the weapon used by the Russian soldier as a box cutter.
A later clip is said to have shown the same Ukrainian prisoner being tied up and shot in the head.
The Independent was unable to verify the footage, but the investigative outlet Bellingcat said it appeared to be authentic and the video has been shared by pro-Russian media.
An adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, also indicated the video was genuine and vowed Kyiv would identify and punish the soldier’s killers for the torture and murder.
One Ukrainian MP said on Twitter she had been banned by the platform for posting the video.
Inna Sovsun MP later shared a screenshot of the original post with the footage blurred, in which she wrote: “Russian soldier from Chechen battalion Ahmat cut off the genitals of Ukrainian POW (prisoner of war).
“This is what Nazis are doing to Ukrainians.
“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!”
In a secont tweet posted on Friday, Ms Sovsun wrote: “Twitter banned my profile today. Because I posted a video where a Russian soldier castrates a Ukrainian POW.
“@Twitter decided it was too cruel. But this is what happens. And deleting the video won’t change that.
“People should know what #Russia is doing!”
Kyiv’s prosecutor general’s office has since announced it has launchds investigation into the video, while its Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the International Criminal Court to launch a probe.
“Ukraine strongly condemns the brutal war crimes committed by the servicemen of the Russian Federation against Ukrainian prisoners of war, particularly horrible cases of torture, physical abuse, inhuman treatment, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health and wilful killing of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” the department said in a statement.
“Minister of foreign affairs Dmytro Kuleba calls on the international community to condemn the brutal violation of international law by the Russian Federation and to immediately recognize Russia as a terrorist state
“He emphasised that any delay in this decision will only encourage Russia to commit further crimes and inhumane acts.”
Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, described the “assault as “yet another apparent example of complete disregard for human life and dignity in Ukraine committed by Russian forces.
She contined: “All those suspected of criminal responsibility must be investigated and, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecuted in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts and without recourse to death penalty.
“Since the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Amnesty International has documented crimes under international law, like summary killings of captives by Russia-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine and extrajudicial executions of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces.
“International law is clear: prisoners of war must not be subjected to any form of torture or ill-treatment, and should be given immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The relevant authorities must fully respect the rights of prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.”
Paul Massaro, a senior policy adviser for the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the “sickening evil committed by the Russian invaders” showed the urgency of helping Ukraine end the war.
“The barbarity and depravity of the Russian invaders is revolting. Castration, murder, rape, killing children, leveling cities. Unmitigated evil, he tweeted.
It comes as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war appeared to have been killed when a prison building was destroyed in a missile strike.
Reuters TV showed the remains of a cavernous burned-out building filled with metal beds, some with charred bodies lying on them while other bodies were lined up on military stretchers or on the ground outside.
Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of carrying out the attack.
Russia’s defence ministry said 40 prisoners were killed and 75 wounded in the attack on the prison, in the frontline town of Olenivka, in a part of Donetsk province held by separatists.
A spokesman for the separatists put the death toll at 53 and accused Kyiv of targeting the prison with US-made HIMARS rockets.
But Ukraine's armed forces denied responsibility, saying Russian artillery had targeted the prison to hide the mistreatment of those held there. Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia had committed a war crime and called for international condemnation.
Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians since its invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.