March 20, 2023

Russia’s ambassador to the UK has denied that Moscow’s forces dedicated atrocities in Ukraine, blaming as an alternative the West for the destruction of the nation and, specifically, the UK for promising to supply Kyiv with long-range weapons.

Russian ambassador Andrei Kelin additionally mentioned long-range weapons have been a risk to Russians and other people within the pro-Russian territory in Ukraine, which required Russia’s forces to push deeper into Ukraine to guard civilians from the prolonged vary of Western weaponry, notably these promised by London,

“Now we have to maneuver this line additional, deeper into Ukraine simply to keep away from additional threats to the territory of Russia and to the territory of Donbas,” the ambassador informed Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker in an interview in London.

“So, on this manner, Western nations, they’re destroying Ukraine itself,” mentioned the ambassador.

The ambassador mentioned the UK’s provision of long-range weapons – which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised in early February, together with the coaching of Ukrainian jet fighter pilots – wouldn’t be “a severe risk” to Russia on the battlefield.

“I do not consider that it will likely be a severe risk to us,” Kelin mentioned.

“Solely the UK is saying instantly that it’s going to present a long-range weapon for the Ukrainian military and we’re sure that this long-range weapon shall be used in opposition to civilian targets,” he mentioned.

Kelin bluntly denied that Russian forces have been responsible of atrocities – together with the homicide of civilians and rape – dedicated in Ukraine’s Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol.

Greater than 1,000 our bodies of civilians have been found within the Bucha area after Russian forces withdrew from the realm in late March 2022. In accordance with the Kyiv police, some 650 folks have been executed.

“We heard lots about that,” the Russian ambassador informed Al Jazeera’s Barker when he was requested about Russian alleged atrocities.

“They’re completely totally different, completely various things,” he mentioned.

“Bucha has been staged and there’s no doubt about that. Staged by Ukrainian particular forces. In Mariupol, you most likely are saying about bombing the theater over the 12 months. However the victims haven’t been found. So all this stuff we all know,” he mentioned.

Pressed by Barker on his denial, the ambassador replied: “Bucha, completely. It was faux. Mariupol has nothing to do with this, Irpin, I am unsure about Irpin as a result of I [am] not effectively conscious of that.

Requested if crimes might have been dedicated in Irpin, the ambassador once more denied.

“No. It is a army operation. It is a battle, actually. Issues are occurring,” he mentioned, including that Russia does “not goal, particularly, civilian infrastructure”.

Russian forces have for months focused civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, bombing energy, water and heating utilities in what analysts have mentioned was an effort to “freeze” Ukraine into submission over the winter months. Missile assaults on civilian housing are a each day prevalence.

The United Nations has verified a complete of greater than 8,000 civilian deaths to this point because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, practically 500 of whom have been youngsters. The figures are additionally believed to underestimate the precise civilian dying toll.

Requested about his use of the time period “battle” throughout the interview – a phrase which Moscow had banned, formally calling its invasion of Ukraine a “particular army operation” – the ambassador mentioned the battle was akin to a “civil battle”.

“In a manner, sure. In a manner it’s even, you’ll be able to name it, a civil battle as a result of on each elements it’s, we don’t drive a line between Russian folks and Ukrainian folks [in areas] that comprises numerous Russians. So in sure methods, it’s, sure.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy final 12 months branded Russian forces as “murderers, torturers and rapists” who have been committing “genocide” in his nation.

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