Vladimir Putin ‘ordering his own troops to rape Ukrainians as a weapon of war’

Vladimir Putin has instructed his troops to rape Ukrainians as a method of war, the wife of Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed.

Olena Zelenska claimed that troops of Putin were using sexual violence as an intentional element of their warfighting tactics.

She gave the speech in London, at the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict conference, where she also alleged that encouragement to Russian troops to rape Ukrainian women was also coming from their wives back in Russia.

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She said: “Sexually related crimes are not just about violence or threatening people, they are, in fact, another weapon in their arsenal in this war.

“This is why it’s extremely important to recognise [these] as war crimes and bring all the perpetrators to justice.

“This is systematic, because it is coming from the top down, and Russian servicemen are very open about this – they talk about this over the phone with their relatives.”

Last month, it was confirmed by the UN that the Russian military had carried out war crimes in the course of the nine-month conflict.

Cases of sexual violence and abuse were also reported by the UN’s investigators, with efforts now being made to clarify the extent to which they've occurred.

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Organizers of the conference, which was attended by delegates from more than 70 countries, said that in war-torn and conflict zones some 30% of women experience sexual violence.

Ms Zelenska, who also met with prime minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy, continued: “Their wives are encouraging this, [they say] ‘go on, rape these Ukrainian women, just don’t share it with me.’

“I do hope there will be, and has to be, a response from the free world to everything that’s happening in Ukraine now.”

James Cleverly, the UK foreign secretary, said: “Sexual violence in conflict was a clear breach of international law.

“We will not rest in our efforts to protect potential victims and prosecute the perpetrators.

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