Vladimir Putin was accused of committing a “real act of genocide” in Ukraine today as Russian troops fired on peaceful protesters and reports swirled of forced deportations from the port city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said during a trip to London that some cities had been “wiped off the face of the Earth” and accused the Kremlin of “state terrorism”.
Video emerged today of Russian troops firing on peaceful Ukrainian protesters in the occupied city of Kherson, with several people reported injured.
“Russian security forces ran up, started throwing stun grenades into the crowd and shooting,” a Ukraine armed forces spokesperson said.
Kyiv refused Moscow’s demand that it surrenders Mariupol, after Russian troops have shelled the city for weeks on end and blocked civilians from food deliveries, energy or water supplies.
Official figures suggest that 2,400 civilians have died in the city of 400,000 people, however it is expected that the real number is much higher.
The Kremlin has also been accused by the Ukrainian government of forcibly deporting thousands of civilians from Mariupol into Russia in a development labelled as “disturbing” by America’s ambassador to the UN.
Speaking after meeting UK defence secretary Ben Wallace today, Reznikov said: “Several small cities in Ukraine have simply been wiped off the face of the Earth. The last time such destruction was in Europe was during World War II. Moscow is afraid of our army so they are fighting civilians. This is state terrorism.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today accused Russia of targeting civilians deliberately in Mariupol, including an attack on an art school holding 400 civilians yesterday.
He said: “People were hiding there. Hiding from shelling, from bombing. There were no military position.
“There were about 400 civilians, mostly women and children, the elderly. They are under the debris. We don’t know how many are alive at the moment.”