Women stuck in Ukrainian towns and cities under Russian military bombardment are being raped and executed by Russian soldiers, Ukrainian MPs have warned.
A delegation of four female Ukrainian politicians have travelled to the UK to make diplomatic representations to British MPs, cabinet ministers and members of the press.
They have met with levelling up, housing and communities secretary Michael Gove refugee minister Richard Harrington, armed forces minister James Heappey and Europe minister James Cleverley to discuss the refugee resettlement scheme and humanitarian, military and diplomatic support in Ukraine and its border states.
On Thursday afternoon the delegation are due to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Speaking to the British press on Thursday morning, members of the Ukrainian parliament, Lesia Vasylenko, Alona Shkrum, Maria Mezentseva and Olena Khomenko described harrowing details of sexual violence that is believed to taking place amid the conflict in their country.
“Unfortunately, it is still the very beginning of the atrocities,” Vasylenko, a politician belonging to the Holos Party said.
“Putin’s army is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity,” she added.
They said that women, including elderly citizens, who have been unable to escape cities under attack have experienced rape, gang-rapes and subsequent executions. It is believed that there have also been cases of suicide following such violent attacks.
Mariupol, in Southern Ukraine, has been under seige for more than two weeks. The city has suffered intense shelling and rocket attacks, and is currently considered a “no go zone”.
This week Russia launched an airstrike on a theatre where an estimated 1000-1500 civillians, including children, were taking shelter. It remains unknown how many people died in the attack.
The incident followed a separate bombing attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, where several people, including a pregnant woman and her baby were killed.
On Tuesday a humanitarian corridor was opened to facilitate the evacuation of 20,000 people.
Following days of relentless shelling around 4,000 cars managed to leave the confines of the city.
“The atrocities which we are witnessing are against the most vulnerable,” Vasylenko said.
“Putin has shifted his strategy to target specifically women and children. This is a tragedy.”
The Ukrainian MP added that many “victims and families do not have the strength to come forward”, which makes documenting the crimes more difficult.
The delegation called on humanitarian organisations and the British government to provide assistance to women and children traumatised by sexual violence and to help document evidence of war crimes that could later be used in the international court of justice.
Ukrainians wanting to seek refuge in the UK can currently apply under two visa schemes.
The “Ukraine family scheme” enables individuals to join immediate or extended family members in Britain for three years.
The “homes for Ukraine” programme allows British citizens, community groups and charities to sponsor a named refugee and provide them with housing for a minimum of six months.
The Ukrainian MPs decried a lack of international aid organisations working to actively assist civilians on the ground in Ukrainian towns and cities under bombardement.
“It feels really disgusting to be left on your own,” Mezentseva said.
While the politicians said aid is being delivered to border states taking in regugees and in the West of Ukraine where cities can be accessed more safely, help is desperately required in beseiged areas.
The delegation also discussed the need for international assistance aiding traumatised children.
In a meeting with home secretary Priti Patel, they were told Britain would send aid workers with expertise in trauma to refugee camps in border states such as Moldova and Romania, where many unaccompanied minors are currently being housed.
The Ukrainian parliamentarians described Britain as one of their country’s “strongest supporters” and described Winston Churchill as a historical figure they take inspiration from during this time of crisis.
However, the MPs added they travelled to Parliament with requests for the Cabinet. Namely, they would like Britain to implement a no-fly zone and to increase humanitarian aid to besieged cities.
The Ukrainian politicians also want the UK to pressure British companies and French companies based in London to completely cease trading in Russia.
Everything that is contributed to the Russians is coming back with blood in Ukraine,” Shkrum said.
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NFZ now. Britain, Poland and Ukraine together.
Russia needs obliterating from the face of the earth. All Russians are as guilty as Putin in this genocide.
I completely agree. If I had been queen of Earth I would have done the same to Germany after the Holocaust.
Wipe out the country. Dissolve it. Germany and Russia don’t deserve to exist. Give all the land away to neighboring countries. This is so, so shameful..
So you support the hunt on nordic people, the rape, the pain, the suffering?
“This week Russia launched an airstrike on a theatre where an estimated 1000-1500 civilians, including children, were taking shelter….”
This article is a couple of weeks old but good to remind people of what’s happening.