Ukrainian fighters say there’s a bounty placed on a Russian soldier after a gruesome video emerged online appearing to depict a captured Ukrainian soldier being castrated.
The video, reviewed by VICE World News, shows a Russian soldier, wearing a distinctive wide-brimmed hat and blue surgical gloves, castrating a bound Ukrainian prisoner, who is lying on his stomach with his pants cut off. The video first appeared on pro-Russian Telegram accounts. VICE World News is not publishing the video or any screenshots from it. It’s not clear when or where it was filmed, but authorities and soldiers are treating it as authentic.
Human rights organization Amnesty International has described the incident as a war crime, and fighters within Ukraine say there’s a bounty out for the Russian soldier, who is believed to be a member of the Akhmat unit, a Chechen force operating under the umbrella of the Russian military.
One well-known Instagram account popular among U.S. military veterans and foreign fighters who have traveled to fight for Ukraine quoted a former U.S. special forces soldier said to be fighting in Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, about the bounty.
“A bounty has literally been put on this guy's head, and we are going to try to claim it,” an ex-American soldier said to be fighting in Ukraine is quoted as saying. “Watch out…. We are going to find you.”
One member of Ukraine’s special forces said he had viewed the video and was aware of a bounty on the Russian soldier.
“Unfortunately, I saw that,” he said to VICE World News. “Pure barbarism.”
The bounty isn’t believed to be an official Ukrainian military directive, a source familiar with the Ukrainian government told VICE World News. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
“I know there's no place in the world this ‘man’ can hide,” a fighter from the group told VICE World News in a text. The Wolverines are partly composed of international veterans and are known for painting references from the film Red Dawn, which portrayed American teens fighting back against a Soviet invasion, across destroyed Russian vehicles.
The same sentiment was shared by Mykhailo Podolyak, a chief adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who publicly commented on the video.
“All the world needs to understand: Russia is a country of cannibals who enjoy torture and murder,” tweeted Podolyak. “But the fog of war will not help to avoid the punishment of the executioners. We identify everyone. We will get everyone.”
President Zelenskyy has said that when it comes to seeking revenge for his country, it may take a lesson from Israel, which is known to have had assassination teams that ruthlessly hunted down and killed or captured Nazi-era war criminals long after World War II ended.
With files from Matthew Gault