Ukraine crisis: British PM Boris Johnson decries Putin 'war crimes' as allies refer Russia to ICC
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accused Vladimir Putin’s forces of committing war crimes as Russian troops step up their bombardment of Ukraine’s cities.
Johnson blamed the Russian president for “abhorrent” attacks as Ukraine’s capital Kyiv braced for a siege and second city Kharkiv suffered a further pounding.
On Wednesday evening, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK and 37 allies had referred “atrocities in Ukraine” to the International Criminal Court.
Mr Johnson spoke to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday, promising further support and weapons for the forces resisting Russia’s military.
Strikes that damaged the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv and the central square in Kharkiv have caused revulsion, and Western allies fear it is a sign of a shift in Russian tactics towards the indiscriminate targeting of urban areas.
For the first time the UK explicitly accused Mr Putin of war crimes, with Downing Street claiming “horrific acts” were occurring on an almost hourly basis as population centres are targeted.
“Putin has gravely miscalculated,” Johnson said.
“In his abhorrent assault on a sovereign nation, he has underestimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism.”
More than 2000 civilians have died since the invasion, Ukraine’s state emergency service said, although that figure has not been independently verified.
The United Nations’ refugee agency believes around 874,000 people have fled Ukraine, with that figure expected to soon reach a million.
“What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin’s regime in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians, in my view, already fully qualifies as a war crime,” Johnson told MPs in parliamentary question time.
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