As the war in Ukraine approaches its third month, reports suggest Russian troops are increasing the force of their attack. This, according to the UK Foreign Secretary, has included the targeting of civilian buildings, particularly in the strategically significant south-eastern port city of Mariupol.
Ms Truss said today, on April 21, in a post on Twitter: “Putin’s regime is committing war crimes on a horrific scale and the depravity is plain to see.
“Those responsible will be held to account.”
Other world leaders have been more measured with their verbal critiques of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Emmanuel Macron said, for example, such terms “must be qualified by jurists, not by politicians”.
But Ms Truss suggested the strength of Russia’s assault justified her terms.
She described “the depravity of Russia’s assault on the people of Ukraine”, claiming: “They are deliberately targeting hospitals, schools, and transport hubs in Mariupol and beyond.”
Responding to the findings of the UK intelligence services, the Foreign Secretary announced 26 new sanctions being imposed on Russia.
These, the Government announced, are “all linked to Russia’s military and defence capabilities”.
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Ms Truss, along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has previously conceded British sanctions against Russia will cause economic harm at home.
Both the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation have condemned reports of Russian troops targeting civilian buildings.
Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the UN, said in March, just two weeks after the invasion was launched: “We remind the Russian authorities that directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as so-called bombardment in towns and villages and other forms of indiscriminate attacks, are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes.”
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Some reports from the ground suggest some Ukrainian troops have used civilian buildings as bases before they were destroyed by Russian forces.
One Ukrainian citizen whose apartment block in Chernihiv was destroyed by Russian forces insisted this was not so in his case.
He, quoted in the Financial Times, said: “I have no explanation. There are no military units here.
“There are only civilians, and across the street a cardiology hospital and a kindergarten.”
Despite reports of increasing destruction in Ukraine, Russian state-backed TV is broadcasting claims all efforts are justified and, if anything, demonstrate restraint.
Former MP Alexander Sherin told Channel One Russia this week he is confident Ukrainians will be “grateful” for what Russia is doing.
He, quoted by Francis Scarr from the BBC, said: “The actions of the Russian army are aimed at curing Ukrainians of the sickness of Nazism in their brains and not at cutting off their hands.”
Those whose country is being attacked, Sherin added, will be grateful “we didn’t set as an objective the elimination of their children”.