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Zelensky blasts Russia over beheading video

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KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday denounced Russian “beasts” after a video appeared to show the beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner, prompting international outrage.

The emergence of the disturbing footage, which was unable to independently verify, sparked fury in Ukraine, with Kyiv saying Russia is “worse than ISIS” — a reference to the militant Islamic State group. The European Union pledged to hold war criminals to account, while a UN mission in Ukraine said it was “appalled”.

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine also pointed to another video that is spreading online, saying it “shows mutilated bodies of apparent Ukrainian POWs”. It was not clear when or where the video was filmed. Ukrainian authorities said they were trying to identify the victim.

Following the emergence of a new video, Zelensky said in an address posted to social media that “the world must see” what he called an “execution of a Ukrainian captive.

Moscow says US leaks may be intended to ‘deceive’ Russia

“There is something that no one in the world can ignore: how easily these beasts kill,” the grim-faced Ukrainian leader said. “We won’t forget anything, nor will we forgive murderers,” he added.

Zelensky urged world leaders to act and help Ukraine defeat Russia as Kyiv forces prepare a counter-offensive after a months-long stalemate on the battlefield.

The video, which lasts around one minute 40 seconds, shows a masked man in camouflage decapitating another man in uniform.

After the screams stop, other voices are heard encouraging the attacker in Russian.

After the man is decapitated, a voice is heard saying that the head should be sent “to the commander”. The victim’s vest bearing the Ukrainian trident and a skull can also be seen in the footage.

Intended to ‘deceive’

The leak of a trove of highly sensitive documents online could be a move by the US to “deceive” Russia, its deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday.

“It’s probably interesting for someone to look at these documents, if they really are documents or they could be a fake or it could be an intentional leak,” Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies.

“Since the US is a party to the (Ukraine) conflict and is essentially waging a hybrid war against us, it is possible that such techniques are being used to deceive their opponent, the Russian Federation,” he said.

Asked about the leaks during a briefing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Like everyone else, we do not know the degree of credibility these documents have.

“But even disregarding them, long before these documents appeared, we had and still have information that many fighters and instructors from Nato countries, including the United Kingdom, are taking part in combat operations.”

The breach — which has sparked a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice — includes classified information about Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces, as well as secret assessments of US allies.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2023


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