Zelensky’s Message to Russia After Wagner Group ‘Beheadings’


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for an international response to brutal footage which purportedly shows the beheadings of Ukrainian soldiers.

his is a video of Russia as it is,” said Zelensky on Wednesday, “Russia trying to make that the new norm, such a habit of destroying life.”

His comments follow videos that emerged on social media apparently depicting two separate incidents filmed in undisclosed locations. The first video, on April 8, apparently shows the beheaded corpses of two Ukrainian soldiers next to a destroyed military vehicle. The Kremlin has said that the footage needed to be authenticated.

Reports on Russian social media claimed the video was shot near Bakhmut by Wagner Group mercenaries, who are financed by the Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The second video posted on Twitter on Tuesday, heavily blurred, allegedly shows a Russian fighter using a knife to cut off the head of a Ukrainian soldier. A voice at the beginning of the footage suggests that the soldier may have been alive at the start of the attack.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

“This is not an accident or episode. This has happened earlier. This has happened in Bucha,” Zelensky added in the video address, referring to the Kyiv suburb where Russian forces are accused of carrying out atrocities last year.

Zelensky said that “every leader” must react and that “we are not going to forget anything and neither are we going to forgive the murderers.”

“There will be legal responsibility for everything,” he said. “The main goal is to win.”

His comments were part of a chorus of condemnation from Kyiv about allegations of conduct by Russian troops in the full-scale invasion.

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said it had launched an investigation into the alleged execution. “We will find these monsters,” said SBU Head Vasyl Maliuk, “they will definitely be punished for what they have done.”

The videos have not been independently verified. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the footage as “terrible” on Wednesday but said that its authenticity needed to be checked.

“If it is confirmed, then we need to find where and by whom,” the action was committed, he told reporters.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that Russian troops were “worse than ISIS,” referring to the militant Islamist group that released videos of the beheading of its prisoners.

Kuleba also described it as “absurd” that Moscow was presiding over the United Nations Security Council. Russia took the presidency of the U.N. body on April 1 despite calls from Ukraine to block the move.

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