As she demanded a “global response”, Ukraine’s first lady accused Russian forces using rape to war against her country.
Olena Zelenska claimed that wives of Russian soldiers encouraged them to rape Ukrainian women.
The 44-year old was speaking at an international conference in London to address sexual violence during conflict.
“Sexual violence, which is cruel and animalistic, is the best way to show mastery over another person. It is also difficult for victims of such violence to testify in wartime because no one feels safe.” she stated.
“This is yet another weapon they (Russian forces), are using to their advantage. This is yet another weapon they have in their arsenal for this conflict and war. This is why they are using it openly and systematically.”
Ms Zelenska stated that it was important to recognize this crime as a war crime, and hold all perpetrators responsible.
Russian troops speak to their families about rapes
“We can see that Russian servicemen are open about this. They talk about it over the telephone with their family members, based on phone conversations we have captured.
“In fact, Russian wives encourage this. They say, “Go on, rape these Ukrainian women. Just don’t share it with me. Just don’t tell us.”
“This is why we need a global response.”
Evidence that ‘credible allegations’ have been made about Russian troops’ sexual violence against children
Ukrainian women openly reveal the rape experience and claim that Russian soldiers must be ‘punished’
A Kyiv-based international criminal lawyer assisted in the war crimes investigation. He claimed that there was evidence that Russian commanders knew of sexual violence in Ukraine by military personnel “and in some cases (were) encouraging or even ordering it.”
Wayne Jordash stated that some of the violence in the capital area involved Russian armed forces’ level of organization that “speaks to the need for planning on a greater scale”.
He didn’t identify any individuals.
Last month, a UN-backed report revealed that victims of alleged assaults ranged from age four to 80. In some cases, family members were even present at the scene.
According to a ruling by Chernihiv district courts, a Russian soldier repeatedly abused a girl in March and threatened to kill her family in the Chernihiv area of northern Ukraine.
Ruslan Kuliyev, 31, and another Russian soldier in his command were found guilty by the court of war crimes in absentia.