Ukrainian officials said they have begun a war crimes investigation into a video that emerged of what they said was the execution of a Ukrainian prisoner of war by Russian soldiers.
Slightly hunched and with a cigarette dangling from his lip, the Ukrainian soldier in the video looks tired and dirty. He is not holding a weapon and is standing in what appears to be a freshly dug patch of dirt in a forest when a voice off-camera calls out in Russian, “I’m filming now.”
Pulling the cigarette from his mouth and exhaling a cloud of smoke, the soldier in the frame flatly says: “Slava Ukraini” — Glory to Ukraine. Gunfire erupts almost immediately from at least two directions, and the man crumples to the ground.
“What glory to Ukraine?” a voice off-camera shouts in Russian, inserting an expletive. “Die,” adds another voice, also using an expletive.
The New York Times was unable to confirm the origin of the video, or when and where it was filmed. But the 10-second clip rocketed across social media on Monday and was shared by Ukrainian news outlets, drawing swift outrage from officials in Kyiv who said it was the latest clear-cut evidence of Russian war crimes.
The Ukrainian military said the video showed Russian forces “executing a Ukrainian prisoner.”
“This video is another confirmation of war crimes,” it said in a brief statement on Telegram.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine vowed to “find the murderers,” and the country’s prosecutor general’s office said it had opened an investigation into the video of the “brutal and brazen shooting of an unarmed man.”
“Even war has laws,” the office said in a statement.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called the video “horrific” and urged the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to immediately launch an investigation.
There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin or Russia’s Defense Ministry.
Russian and Ukrainian forces have both been accused of war crimes since Moscow ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, though the number and scale of reported Russian crimes far exceed the accusations against Ukraine.
The chilling footage circulating on Monday drew an immediate response from Ukrainians.
Social media users widely shared the video, as well as renderings of the soldier himself, with words of praise. Some showed him with the word hero, others with angel wings, and more still bearing his defiant words: Slava Ukraini. Glory to Ukraine.
In his nightly address, Mr. Zelensky called the soldier brave.
“I want us all to respond to his words together, in unity: “Glory to the Hero! Glory to the Heroes! Glory to Ukraine!” Mr. Zelensky said.
Anatoly Kurmanaev contributed reporting.