British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed Russians Tuesday in a video message concerning the war in Ukraine and he spoke in the Russian language.
“Russian people deserve the truth, you deserve the facts,” Johnson said in Russian at the beginning of his address before continuing in English. “The atrocities committed by Russian troops in Bucha, Urban and elsewhere in Ukraine have horrified the world.”
“Civilians massacred, shot dead with their hands tied, women raped in front of their young children, bodies crudely burned, dumped in mass graves or just left lying in the street,” he said.
His message comes in the wake of shocking pictures and videos of apparent brutal killings of civilians in Bucha, which was formerly occupied by Russian forces. Russia withdrew from the area around March 30.
Johnson said the “saddening and sickening” reports are the reason why the Russian government “is seeking to hide them” from the Russian people.
“Your president knows that if you could see what was happening, you would not support his war,” he said. “He knows that these crimes betray the trust of every Russian mother, who proudly waved goodbye to her son as he heads off to join the military. And he knows that they are a stain on the honor of Russia itself. A stain that will only grow larger and more indelible every day as this war continues.”
He urged Russians to get a VPN connection to access “independent information from anywhere in the world” and share it, referring to Russia’s ban on social media platforms and media institutions.
Johnson said, “those responsible will be held to account and history will remember who looked the other way.”
Concluding his remarks in Russian, Johnson said: “Your president stand accused of committing war crimes. But I cannot believe he’s acting in your name.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow are facing vehement criticism from the international community after Ukraine accused Russian forces of committing “genocide” and “war crimes” in Bucha.
Russia has rejected the allegations as a “fake news attack,” arguing that images of dead bodies and footage of slain civilians that have drawn global outrage were staged after Russian forces withdrew from the city.
Russia’s war against Ukraine, which started Feb. 24, has met international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough sanctions on Moscow.
At least 1,480 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,195 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.
More than 4.21 million Ukrainians have also fled to other countries, with about 7 million more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.