Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Ukraine’s hardest-hit city, Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed on Monday – when his chief prosecutor called Russian President Vladimir Putin “the 21st century’s greatest war criminal”.
Zelensky gave the shockingly up-to-date statement, while also warning that invading troops appeared ready for an even larger attack to finally take over the besieged city, which intelligence officials fear could be hit by phosphorus bombs.
“Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands of dead, but despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive,” Zelensky told the South Korean parliament as he asked for more support.
Despite the devastating losses, “Russian troops will move to even larger operations,” Zelensky warned in a late-night video speech Sunday.
“They can use even more missiles against us, even more air bombs,” he warned, insisting that his nation “prepare for their actions” and “will respond.”
Great Britain The Ministry of Defense also warned Monday with an expected escalation from Russia, including on Mariupol, which is the focal point between Russian-controlled areas to the west and east.
“The former use of phosphorus munitions by Russian forces … increases the possibility of their future employment in Mariupol as fighting for the city intensifies,” Britain said in its latest military intelligence report.
The same report also blamed “Russia’s continued dependence on uncontrolled bombs” for the continuing risk of “further civilian casualties.”
Ukraine’s Attorney General Iryna Venediktova also warned of “evidence” that her nation will still “witness without precedent and terrible” war crimes.
She told ITV News on Sunday that more than 90% of Mariupol’s infrastructure had been wiped out and at least 1,222 bodies had been found in the regions around the capital Kiev.
“Vladimir Putin is the 21st century’s most important war criminal,” she said told Sky News.
Venediktova said her office has so far identified at least 500 invading troops responsible for at least 5,600 war crimes.
“It’s not just war crimes, it’s crimes against humanity,” she told the British television station.
The country’s top prosecutor blew up Friday’s deadly missile attack on Kramatorsk railway station, where thousands tried to flee the war.
“These people just wanted to save their lives … it was women, it was children,” she told Sky News about the more than 50 dead, including at least five children.
Ludmila Zabaluk, head of the Dmytriv Village Department, north of Kiev, said more than 50 bodies were found there.
‘They shot them at close range. There is a car where a 17-year-old child was burned, only bones left. A woman had half of her head blown off. A little further away, a man lying near his car was burned alive, “she said.
The UN said on Sunday that 4,232 civilian casualties had been recorded in Ukraine to date, with 1,793 killed and 2,439 wounded. Officials have long admitted that the final figure will be much higher.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
About a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people have been forced out of their homes as cities have become rubble, and thousands of people have been killed or injured – many of them civilians.
The frightening updates came when Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Monday was set to be the first European leader to face Putin since his brutal invasion.
He plans to tell Putin “what reality looks like outside the Kremlin’s walls” – including that he has “de facto lost the war morally,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Monday.
“It should be in his own interest that someone tell him the truth. I think it is important and we owe it to ourselves if we want to save lives, “Schallenberg said ahead of the planned meeting in Moscow.
With Post wires