Russian generals are actively encouraging troops to commit atrocities, a security expert has warned, days after shocking footage of the apparent beheading of a Ukrainian soldier was circulated online. Ivan Stupak also said Russian troops have been filming and sharing similarly horrific content for decades – and said such behaviour was part of a systematic campaign of brutality targeting civilians and prisoners of war alike.
Clips circulated on the Telegram instant messaging app by mercenaries from the Wagner Group, founder by Vladimir Putin henchman Yevgeny Prigozhin, showed thugs decapitating Ukrainian POWs and mounting their heads on spikes.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is among those who have condemned the sickening images, and has vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
Mr Stupak, a former operative with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) who now works for the Ukrainian Institute of the Future, told Express.co.uk: “Unfortunately, we will have to discover many newer and awful Russian army committed crimes.
“We have to realise that Russian servicemen have filmed their acts of tortures since the Chechen war (1994-2000).”
The main goal was to try and impress fellow Russian soldiers in different units throughout Ukraine, Mr Stupak said.
He explained: “They used to share it only through Russian Telegram messenger that is why it’s quite rare appears in western social media.”
In that context Mr Stupak said it would be a mistake to see the clips which emerged this week as isolated incidents.
He explained: “People from all over the world must understand, that this sort of atrocity is not a just single acts or crimes which are the part of any war.
JUST IN: Helicopter flown by Prince Andrew in Falklands War handed to Ukraine
“Russian Armed Forces are conducting unjustified mass fusillades across civilians and POWs.
“Russian generals and flag officers encourage such bloodthirsty behaviour of their subordinates.
“Russian government-controlled mass media try to convince their viewers that such actions by the Russian military are normal practice during a war, and that the United States and other Western countries commit war crimes in the same way.”
Asked whether action was needed to stop harrowing similar footage being shared in the future, he continued: “It’s very fine balance between preventing such horrific images (videos) and establishing digital dictatorship on the internet.
“There is no sufficient methods to stop sharing such content, but a civilised world could make essential steps to stop raging wars.”
The SBU has said it is investigating what it called a “war crime”.
In a video also shared on Twitter, Mr Zelensky said: “”Everyone must react. Every leader. Do not wait for this to be forgotten.”
Commenting on the footage earlier this week, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba drew attention to the fact that Russia is currently the holder of the one-month rolling presidency of the United Nations Security Council.
He tweeted: “It’s absurd that Russia, which is worse than ISIS, is presiding over the UNSC.
“Russian terrorists must be kicked out of Ukraine and the UN and be held accountable for their crimes.”