Two videos have emerged on social media in the past week which purport to show beheaded Ukrainian soldiers.
The videos appear to be of separate events – one of them may have been filmed very recently, while the other, from the amount of foliage seen on the ground, looks like it was filmed during the summer.
The first video, which was posted to a pro-Russian social media channel on April 8, was purportedly filmed by Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group and appears to show the beheaded corpses of two Ukrainian soldiers lying on the ground next to a destroyed military vehicle.
In the video, a voice can be heard, behind the camera, the sound seemingly distorted to prevent the speaker’s identification.
“(The armored vehicle) got f**ked by a mine,” the voice, speaking Russian, says.
Apparently referring to the bodies on the ground, the voice, laughing, continues, “They killed them. Someone came up to them. They came up to them and cut their heads off.”
The dead soldiers also appear to have had their hands cut off.
Russian social media accounts say the video was shot near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, which has been the scene of the war’s fiercest fighting for many months, with Wagner fighters heavily involved. CNN is unable to independently confirm the video’s location.
The second video, which was posted on Twitter and is heavily blurred, looks to have been filmed during the summer because of the amount of plant life on the ground. It purports to show a Russian fighter using a knife to cut off the head of a Ukrainian soldier. A voice at the beginning of the video suggests the victim might have still been alive when the attack began.
Shortly after the videos emerged, Andriy Yermak, a top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted, “There will be an accountability for everything.” An official Ukrainian government Telegram channel said the tweet was a direct reference to “another execution video published by Russians.”
On Monday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that Wagner was “reportedly continuing to commit war crimes by beheading Ukrainian servicemen in Bakhmut,” referencing a photo shared on pro-Russian social media sites showing what appeared to be a severed head, which they claimed belonged to a Ukrainian soldier, mounted on a spike.
The ISW has reported similar incidents in Popasna, in the Luhansk region, where Wagner troops were also operating earlier in the war.
Some pro-Russian social media accounts have suggested Ukrainian forces were responsible for the beheadings in an effort to conceal identification. This echoes a similar claim made by Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in January after his fighters apparently found bodies with severed hands and heads near Bakhmut.