The Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Andrey Kelin, has denied allegations that Moscow’s forces committed atrocities in Ukraine. Instead, he blamed the West for the destruction of the country, particularly the UK for promising to provide Kyiv with long-range weapons. Kelin argued that long-range weapons were a threat to Russians and people in pro-Russian territory in Ukraine, which required Russia’s forces to push deeper into Ukraine to protect civilians from the extended range of Western weaponry, particularly those promised by London.
Kelin stated that the provision of long-range weapons by the UK, including the training of Ukrainian jet fighter pilots, would not be a serious threat to Russia on the battlefield. He also denied that Russian forces were guilty of atrocities, including the murder of civilians and rape, committed in Ukraine’s Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol. Kelin claimed that Bucha had been staged by Ukrainian special forces and that Mariupol had nothing to do with it. He also denied that any crimes had been committed in Irpin.
However, Russian forces have for months targeted civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, bombing power, water and heating utilities in what analysts have said was an effort to “freeze” Ukraine into submission over the winter months. Missile attacks on civilian housing are a daily occurrence. The United Nations has verified a total of more than 8,000 civilian deaths so far as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, nearly 500 of whom have been children.
When asked about his use of the term “war” during the interview, a word which Moscow had banned, officially calling its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation,” Kelin said the conflict was akin to a “civil war.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last year branded Russian forces as “murderers, torturers and rapists” who were committing “genocide” in his country.
In conclusion, Kelin’s denial of Russian atrocities in Ukraine is not supported by the evidence. The ongoing conflict has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and widespread destruction of infrastructure. The provision of long-range weapons by the UK is a response to Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine and is intended to help Kyiv defend itself against further Russian incursions. The conflict is not a civil war but an invasion by Russia into Ukrainian territory.