A gory new video released by the terror group ISIS claims to show a militant beheading a Russian intelligence officer.
Released on May 8 to coincide with Russia's Victory Day celebrations, the propaganda video from ISIS' Furat Media asserts that the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate is succeeding against Russian forces. Like other beheading videos released by ISIS, it features the victim reading a confession and urging Russian forces to surrender before being gruesomely murdered.
According to the Washington Post, the soldier pictured is Capt. Yevgeny Petrenko, 36, who apparently infiltrated ISIS-linked groups in Kazakhstan before being captured in September. In the video, Petrenko details how he had been abandoned by the Russian government after failing to gain access to an ISIS commander. Both Petrenko and his captor speak Russian throughout the recording.
The Independent reports that the Russian defense ministry dubbed the propaganda video a "hoax spread by international terrorist groups," and added: "All servicemen of the Russian armed forces group in Syria are alive, well and are carrying out their duties in the fight against international terrorism."
However, Russian Sen. Vikor Ozerov reportedly said that if the footage proves to be authentic, "there would be hell to pay."
The video released by ISIS is a clear work of propaganda designed to threaten and intimidate the Russian forces who have been fighting in Syria since 2015. The full video features videos of other Russian air strikes, alleged civilian casualties, footage of Russian helicopters crashing, and protests against Russian president Vladimir Putin.
In a previous video released by ISIS, Petrenko was named as a Russian Federal Security Service colonel. The previous video threatened Petrenko's execution as "a message to the president of Russia and its people."
According to Fox News, Petrenko's mission was "to infiltrate the special services of the caliphate and the leadership of the caliphate." Specifically, Petrenko was ordered to gain access to Omar al-Shishani, also known as Omar the Chechen, a top IS commander in Syria who was confirmed killed in a July 2016 U.S. air strike.
Since Russia entered the Syrian civil war in 2015, the country has had moderate success against ISIS, joining the international coalition driving the terror group back. However, Russia has also been successful at supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad against rebel Syrian forces supported by the U.S. military.
Due to Russia's proximity to the conflict, as well as the thousands of alleged ISIS soldiers that come from Russia's mostly-Muslim southern regions, the country has experienced a growing terror threat. Militants set off a bomb in a St. Petersburg subway on April 3, killing 15.