Russian soldiers 'raping women', Ukraine's foreign minister claims

Russian soldiers are ‘raping women in occupied territory’, Ukraine’s foreign minister claims

  • Ukrainian foreign minister has claimed that Russian soldiers are ‘raping women’ 
  • Dmytro Kuleba said that there has been ‘numerous cases’ in occupied territory
  • He did not give evidence to back his claim but Ukrainian media reported 11 cases 
  • Local outlets said the cases were reported in Kherson, a city captured by Russia  
  • Click here for MailOnline’s liveblog with the latest updates on the Ukraine crisis 

Russian soldiers have allegedly raped women in cities they have already captured, the Ukrainian foreign minister has claimed. 

Dmytro Kuleba, speaking during an online event hosted by the Chatham House think-tank, said there had already been ‘numerous cases’ of rape within occupied territory.      

But speaking from Ukraine wearing a casual jumper and jacket he said he was ‘sorry I may not look like a foreign minister’, adding that it was ‘difficult’ to talk about international law amid the nation’s suffering. 

He did not give evidence to back his claim, but Ukrainian media reported that eleven cases of rape had been reported in Kherson – the only major city captured by Russia after more than a week of fighting.  

Mr Kuleba called on the media to ‘spread the truth about Russia’s crimes against Ukraine’.

He said: ‘We are fighting against the enemy who is much stronger than us. But international law is on our side, and hopefully it will help us. It will make its own contribution to help us prevail.’

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter on Thursday there were ‘worrying reports’ of a potential operation to suggest Ukraine has attacked a Russian village

A school building damaged in yesterday’s shelling in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, which saw 47 people die, according to local authorities 

People take cover from shelling in the city of Bucha, west of Kyiv, during a Russian assault to try and capture it

Mr Kuleba said: ‘When bombs fall on your cities, when soldiers rape women in the occupied cities – and we have numerous cases of, unfortunately, when Russian soldiers rape women in Ukrainian cities – it’s difficult of course to speak about the efficiency of the international law.

‘But this is the only tool of civilisation that is available to us to make sure that, in the end, eventually all those who made this war possible will be brought to justice and the Russian Federation, as a country that committed an act of aggression, will also be held accountable for its deeds.’  

The Ukrainian politician during his speech also backed calls for Vladimir Putin to face a special tribunal over the continued military action in Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion has already claimed hundreds of lives, displaced more than a million people and spurred allegations of war crimes. 

Indiscriminate shelling of major Ukrainian cities has been taking place, leaving hundreds of innocents dead.

And the attack showed no sign of letting up today, as Mykolaiv, in the south of Ukraine, came under attack with Russian forces moved within striking distance of the city centre. 

The city is located just a few miles from Kherson, which fell to Putin’s men earlier in the week, along the road to Odessa – Ukraine’s third-largest city and main port.

However, reports emerged on Friday evening that an attack on an airport on the outskirts of the city had been repulsed, with Ukrainian forces digging in for fresh fighting overnight.  

But Ukraine’s military did managed to pull off some successes. Two Russian jets were downed near Volnovakha, in the east near Donetsk, while Ukrainian special forces also ambushed two of the Kremlin’s tank columns at Hostomel and Brovary, leaving large numbers of troops dead and destroying vehicles.

In the early hours of Friday, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was attacked. A damaged Russian attack vehicle is seen outside the power plant (left) while firefighters work to extinguish a fire that broke out inside a training complex (right)

Fire-damaged buildings at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex are pictured on Friday morning after coming under attack by Russian forces overnight, leading to international condemnation 

Russian armoured vehicles and troops attacked the nuclear power plant in the early hours of Friday, shooting and shelling guards holed up in administrative buildings near the nuclear reactors – setting one of them on fire

In one image that seemed to sum up the appalling human catastrophe of the Russian invasion, a Ukrainian soldier was pictured rescuing a tiny baby from a scene of total devastation in Irpin, near Kyiv

In the early hours of Friday, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which creates around 20 per cent of Ukraine’s electricity, was attacked. 

CCTV captured a fierce gun battle between Putin’s men and Ukrainian defenders that sparked a fire in a six-storey training building just outside the main complex. Moscow’s men then stopped firefighters getting to the building for several hours. 

Moscow has, predictably, attempted to deny responsibility for the attack, saying its forces had come under attack by Ukrainian ‘saboteurs’ while patrolling the plant, who then set fire to the building themselves. 

It is the latest in a string of denials by Vladimir Putin who on Friday insisted that Russian forces are not bombing Ukrainian cities. 

The bizarre denial came amid fears at least 100 people are buried under rubble after an apartment block near Kyiv was struck and after a cluster bomb attack on the cit of Chernihiv which killed 49.    

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who also addressed Chatham House event, said he believes the prospect of Mr Putin ending up in the dock for the crime of aggression against Ukraine is ‘a realistic option’.

The former Labour leader, calling on countries to support the creation of a special tribunal to punish the Russian leader, said the plan is modelled on the actions of the nations which met in London during the Second World War to draft a resolution on Nazi war crimes, which led to the creation of the International Military Tribunals and the Nuremberg trials.

He said a new international tribunal is needed as well as existing international investigations by the International Criminal Court.

Mr Brown said: ‘President Putin has posed a fateful challenge to the post-1945 international order. He has sought to replace the rule of law with a misuse of force.

‘If we were to acquiesce in any way, none of us could ever take freedom or democracy for granted ever again.’

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who also addressed Chatham House event, said he believes the prospect of Mr Putin ending up in the dock for the crime of aggression against Ukraine is ‘a realistic option’

He said he believes it is ‘a realistic option’ that Mr Putin could end up at a tribunal, adding that governments in the European Union, some Baltic states as well as the UK have all been contacted about the idea of a setting up the legal mechanism.

He said: ‘I hope they are looking at it with an eye to making a decision to support this but they’re certainly looking at this with a great deal of care and resilience in the way that they are wanting to find ways to deal with this problem.’

The proposal Mr Brown is supporting seeks to address a gap in the international legal infrastructure. It has been formulated by senior international legal experts including Philippe Sands QC, director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London.

The lawyers are demanding that the UK and other countries join Ukraine to grant jurisdiction to a dedicated criminal tribunal to investigate both the perpetrators of the crime of aggression and those complicit in that crime.

Mr Brown added: ‘Currently the ICC can investigate crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. As evidence mounts acts against innocent civilians including children and the use of vapour bombs, it may be that Russia can be prosecuted for these crimes.

‘But we lack a crucial extra weapon in the legal fight against Putin, because Russia has not signed up to a separate ICC statute under which nations pledge not to commit so-called ‘crimes of aggression’. We need the special tribunal.

‘Mr Kuleba wants us to act and I believe we must do so now. Putin must not be able to escape justice.’

A delusional Vladimir Putin has again insisted that Russia is not bombing Ukrainian cities, despite fears that 100 people are buried under rubble after an apartment block near Kyiv was struck and after an attack on the city of Chernihiv which killed 49

A woman walks amidst the debris of a school building destroyed by shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr on March 4

Other pictures showed a devastated woman appearing emotional as she walked past a house burning after the city of Irpin came under massive shelling

Echoing Mr Brown’s belief that Putin could face justice, Mr Sands said if there is ‘political will’ it is possible to set up tribunals, citing the ‘horrors of Yugoslavia and Rwanda’ as examples of where this had been possible.

On the prospect of Mr Putin ending up ‘in the dock’, the professor of law at University College London and practising barrister said it might have at one stage been ‘unimaginable that Nazi leaders like Hermann Goering and others would find themselves in the dock’ and yet it happened.

He suggested those closest to Putin might at some stage ‘break ranks’ to assist in investigations into war crimes.

He said: ‘In 1945, the imminence of the creation of the Nuremburg tribunal was the basis for negotiations with some very senior people around Adolf Hitler which caused them to cut deals and to avoid prosecution themselves.

‘And I think one of the ideas would be that those in the inner circle might at some point say to themselves ‘Do I really want to be associated with this? Am I willing to break ranks, and am I willing to assist in these investigations?’

‘Who knows? But it’s not impossible.’

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