Widespread outrage as video appears to show Ukrainian soldier being beheaded

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ITV News Correspondent Ian Woods reports on the reaction to the graphic video being shared online. Words by Lottie Kilraine, Multimedia Producer

An investigation has been launched into a graphic video that has been circulating online appearing to show the beheading of a Ukrainian soldier.

Ukrainian officials have said they are looking into the origin of the video, but have futher accused Russia of war atrocities.

The clip, that first surfaced on a Russian social media platform, has since been widely shared online.

It has drawn outrage from international organisations and officials in Kyiv, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The video appears to show a man in a green combat uniform and wearing a yellow armband, typically worn by Ukrainian fighters.

His screams can be heard before another man, dressed in camouflage, uses a knife to decapitate him.

A third man holds up a flak jacket - a protective vest which is worn as a form of body armour - apparently belonging to the man being killed.

All three men in the video speak in Russian, but this does not necessarily confirm the nationality of the men as many Ukrainians also speak Russian.

ITV News has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the video or the circumstances of where and when it was shot.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his visit to Poland last week. Credit: AP

However, it appears to have been filmed last year during the summertime - rather than more recently.

President Zelenksyy said the violence in the video would not be forgotten, and that Russian forces would be held responsible.

“Everyone must react, every leader. Do not expect that it will be forgotten, that time will pass,” he said in a video message.

During his speech the Ukrainian leader used strong language to describe the alleged Russian soldiers in the clip, and called them “beasts.”

Meanwhile in Russia, the Kremlin has called the footage “horrible” but said it needed to be verified.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "In the world of fakes we live in, the authenticity of the footage must be checked."

Ukraine’s state security service has opened an investigation into the video.

Hanna Maliar, the deputy head of the Defense Ministry, said officials are reportedly studying it to identify those responsible, as well as the victim.

A Ukrainian soldier fires at the Russian positions on the frontline near Kremenna, in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. Credit: AP

Ukraine’s human rights chief Dmytro Lubinets said he will request that the UN Human Rights Committee investigate.

He said he has also written to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, the UN secretary-general, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Mr Lubinets wrote on the social network site Telegram: “A public execution of a captive is yet another indication of a breach of Geneva Convention norms, international humanitarian law, a breach of the fundamental right to life.”

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said it had previously documented “serious violations of international humanitarian law, including those committed against prisoners of war".

"The latest incidents must also be properly investigated and the perpetrators must be held accountable,” it added.

Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes in connection with his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine.

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