Defence minister James Heappey branded Russia’s attack on a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol a “war crime”, while warning Moscow that use of chemical weapons may lead to an “international response.”
The Tory cabinet minister for the Armed forces made the claims after Vladimir Putin’s army caused destruction in the besieged city yesterday, with pregnant women injured and children buried under rubble.
When asked if Moscow’s actions amounted to a war crime, he told BBC Breakfast: “If you deliberately target a piece of civilian infrastructure like a hospital, yes”.
“If you use indiscriminate artillery into an urban area without due regard for the reality, you could hit a protected site like a hospital, then that too, in my view, is.”
The former veteran also sounded a warning to Vladimir Putin amid speculation he could employ the use of chemical weapons, with comparisons to Russian actions during the Syrian Civil War.
Speaking on the Today Programme, Heappey refused to be drawn on UK or NATO intervention, should they be used, but again stressed it would constitute a war crime.
The MP for Wells told Radio 4, according to the Mirror: “I don’t think it’s helpful to get into any firm commitment right now about where that red line sits, but I think President Putin needs to be very clear that when other countries have used chemical weapons it has caused an international response.
“I think he should reflect very urgently on what has happened to other countries where they have used them.”