Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska has told British MPs that Russian forces have committed “thousands of crimes” amid the war with Ukraine - including the rape of children as young a four-years-old. The First Lady addressed MPs in-person at Westminster as she visited London.
Speaking in her native Ukrainian, Ms Zelenska said: “We have documented thousands of crimes including sexual violence. The youngest girl who was raped by the Russian occupiers was four years old. The oldest survivor was 85.”
She added that “torture chambers” had been found in towns and villages which Russian troops had previously occupied. She said: “We do not know how many boys and girls and women and men became the victims of torture and violence brought by the Russian occupiers. But it’s important to understand that Russia brought the systematic violence.”
The First Lady also urged the UK to back a “special tribunal” which would see Russia faced with the “crime of aggression” against Ukraine. Ms Zelenska, who argued that the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have the legal force to punish Russia, told MPs that the UK should be a “leader” in calling for this, adding: “We need to unite the world community just as it happened in January 1942 to support the special tribunal against the aggression of Russia against Ukraine.
“I’m asking you a small favour to become the world leader in the justice efforts. I believe that London can give this decisive impetus so that the world can become better, fairer, thanks to you.”
‘We need justice’
Speaking in a committee room in Westminster, Ms Zelenska invoked the spirit of World War Two in comparing the UK and Ukraine. She said: “Ukrainians are going through the terror, which will resonate with you.
“Your islands survived the air raids, which were identical to those that Russia uses now to put us on our knees. We’re hearing sirens every day identical to those which were heard by earlier British generations. You did not surrender and we will not surrender. But victory is not the only thing we need. We need justice.”
Following her address at the Houses of Parliament, Ms Zelenska visited an exhibition at Porticullis House. The exhibition showcased detailed alleged war crimes committed by Russia.
Speaker of the House, Sir Linsday Hoyle, also attended and called the images “shocking, distressing and appalling”. The First Lady urged visitors to the exhibition to “look at those photographs”, adding: “Then your abstract idea of the war in Ukraine will become real.”