The video – first verified by the New York Times – shows a group of soldiers with Ukrainian patches and blue arm bands on a road following a firefight. The bodies of at least four men in Russian uniform are lying on the pavement. Three of them have head wounds and blood is pooled around the body of a fourth, who has a jacket pulled over his head and seems to be rasping.
“He’s still alive,” says one man, in Russian. “He’s gasping.”
A soldier points a rifle and fires two shots at the body, pauses, then fires another. The body stops moving.
A person narrating to the camera then turns to film a Russian infantry fighting vehicle with a “V” marking similar to that seen on Russian military hardware operated by many units in Ukraine. “A little trophy,” the man says.
Someone off camera says, “Slava Ukrayini!” – glory to Ukraine, a patriotic greeting, and a bearded man steps in the frame and replies, “Glory the heroes,” the standard reply.
The exact time and date of the video, which appeared on a pro-Russian Telegram channel, is unclear. The location of the video matches that of a video published on Twitter by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. That video, posted on April 2, shows a blasted Russian armored column. “Handiwork of Ukrainian defenders in the Kyiv region,” the caption reads.
A different video of the scene, filmed from a different angle, appeared on the Telegram channel of UNIAN, a Ukrainian news agency, on March 30. It shows the same bearded man and the caption says the video shows the Georgian Legion, a group of volunteers fighting on the Ukrainian side, in an operation to clear the Kyiv region of Russian troops.
The video of the purported execution comes days after horrific images emerged of the apparent slaughter of civilians by Russian forces in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
Asked about the video at a NATO press conference in Brussels, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said, “I haven’t seen it. I heard about it. I want to reassure you that Ukrainian army observes the rules of warfare.”
Kuleba added, “There might be isolated incidents of the violation of these rules and they will be definitely investigated. But I wanted to double check the date of this of this video, because you should understand one thing now (or) you will not understand it. I’m sorry, but you don’t understand how it feels after seeing pictures on Bucha. Talking to people who escaped, knowing that that person you know was raped four days in a row. And when she finally made it to Kyiv, she was directly taken to the psychiatrist.”
“This is not an excuse to those who violate the rules of warfare on either side or the frontline,” Kuleba continued. “But there are some things which we simply can’t understand.”