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Boris Johnson accuses Putin’s forces of war crimes over the ‘barbarism’ in Ukraine

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ladimir Putin’s forces are committing war crimes as Russian troops step up the bombardment of Ukraine’s cities, Boris Johnson said.

The Prime Minister accused the Russian president of “abhorrent” attacks as Ukraine’s capital Kyiv braced for a siege and second city Kharkiv suffered a further pounding.

Mr Johnson spoke to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday morning, promising further support and weapons for the forces resisting Russia’s military.

Strikes that damaged the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv and the central square in Kharkiv have caused revulsion, and Western allies fear it is a sign of a shift in Russian tactics further towards the indiscriminate targeting of urban areas.

For the first time the UK explicitly accused Mr Putin of war crimes, with Downing Street claiming “horrific acts” were occurring on an almost hourly basis as population centres are targeted.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said: “Putin has gravely miscalculated; in his abhorrent assault on a sovereign nation, he has underestimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism.”

More than 2,000 civilians have died since the invasion, Ukraine’s state emergency service said, although that figure has not been independently verified.

The United Nations’ refugee agency believes around 874,000 people have fled Ukraine but that figure is soon expected to reach a million.

Mr Johnson told MPs: “What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin’s regime in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians, in my view, already fully qualifies as a war crime.”

(PA Graphics) / PA Graphics

But the Prime Minister said “the vice is tightening on the Putin regime” through the sanctions imposed by the West.

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