Russian ambassador denies evidence as he is told of war crimes
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Russia’s ambassador to the UK has refused to take seriously the accusations of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians, offering the explanation “this is war” when faced with reports of one of Putin’s soldiers forcing a four-year-old girl in Kyiv to perform oral sex on him. The Kremlin’s UK ambassador Andrei Kelin spoke to Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Newsnight, during which the pair discussed various war crimes allegedly committed by Russian forces. Kelin dismissed the accusations, saying you could “find these types of evidence on the internet about anything”, before suggesting Ms Derbyshire was not interested in a “serious discussion”.
It comes as the liberation of Kherson earlier this month has revealed hundreds of further cases of torture, civilian abuse and detention.
Ms Derbyshire reported: “This is what the United Nations says were committed by Russian troops: ‘Summary executions in Bucha; in Kharkiv, two witnesses reported Russians beating and shooting dead a person who they dragged off a bus, who was transporting people to the Russian federation; in Kyiv, two Russian soldiers went into a house, raped a 22-year-old woman several times….’”
Kelin tried to interrupt, seemingly poised to question the use of the word “rape”, before Ms Derbyshire cut him off, adding: “Excuse me, I’m not finished.”
The journalist continued: “… [The soldiers] committed acts of sexual violence on her husband, forced the couple to have sexual intercourse in their presence, then one of the soldiers forced their four-year-old daughter to perform oral sex on him, which is rape. That is some of the evidence.”
Kelin said: “You can find these types of evidence on the internet about anything, about this side or that side.”
Ms Derbyshire said: “This is the UN Commission, it is not the internet.”
Referring to being cut off, Kelin said: “Look, this is not a serious discussion. If you would like to have a serious discussion about what is happening in Ukraine, it is not about a single situation here or there.
“If you would like to discuss politics or the serious picture, I will be interested. If not, you will continue reading the material in your newspapers.”
Ms Derbyshire said: “Right, so you do not believe Russian troops have done any of those things?”
After Kelin said he could “imagine” something was happening because “this is war”, Ms Derbyshire said: “That is unacceptable if Russian soldiers are going into women’s houses and raping them.”
Kelin said: “For us, it is not acceptable for Ukrainian soldiers to stick normal people to lampposts with tape, or sticking them in coffins, or killing or humiliating them.”
The UN commission in May commissioned a group of experts to collect evidence of Russian crimes perpetrated against civilians in Ukraine.
Last month, having looked at the areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, the head of the investigative group, Erik Mose, said they had “concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine”.
Included in the atrocities were the bombing of civilian areas, numerous executions, torture and horrific sexual violence.
Mr Mose said the team had been especially “struck by the large number of executions in the areas that we visited”, and the frequent “visible signs of executions on bodies, such as hands tied behind backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats”.
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Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said in September that his office has documented 34,000 potential war crimes committed by Russian forces. He added that he was mounting a case for genocide.
The extent of Russian atrocities has only become evident as Ukraine’s Armed Forces force Putin’s soldiers to retreat.
In the southern port city of Kherson, liberated earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said investigators have already documented more than 400 war crimes committed by Russian forces during their occupation.
“Bodies of dead civilians and servicemen have been found,” he said, in a televised address. “The Russian army left behind the same savagery it did in other regions of the country it entered.”
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