A GROUP of Ukrainian MPs have told of how their citizens are being raped and executed by Russian soldiers in some of the worst-hit areas of the country.

The four women were given special dispensation from the Ukrainian government to travel to the UK, where they have met with ministers and journalists to garner more support in the war against Russia.

Lesia Vasylenko, Alona Shkrum, Maria Mezentseva and Olena Khomenko will meet with Boris Johnson later today, and have already held discussions with Priti Patel, Michael Gove and others.

During a press conference this morning, the group told of how vulnerable Ukrainian women and children are being treated at the hands of Russian forces.

Sexual Violence

In graphic descriptions, they set out the extent of the atrocities affecting some of the most vulnerable people across Ukraine.

Ms Vasylenko explained: “When Putin was unable to take Ukraine and Kyiv in the three days as he envisaged that he would, he shifted his strategy to target specifically women and children.

“We have reports now through Ukraine, especially in cities which were hit the hardest, of women who were raped.

“These women are usually the ones who are unable to get out - we are talking about senior citizens. Most of these women, we have reports they have either been executed after the crime of rape or they have taken their own lives.”

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Her colleague, fellow MP Ms Mezentseva added that there is a huge problem with humanitarian aid organisations being able to access Ukraine and help those who have been victims of sexual violence.

She said that while representatives of the International Red Cross and others are “located at Moldova and Poland or elsewhere, that’s not a presence in Ukraine” adding: “There’s a mandate of those organisations which are receiving funds from the member states to be conducting operations on the ground.

“It feels really disgusting to be left on your own when we are defending international presence and we’re saying there will be a day where they are being attacked.”

Putin has 'stolen childhoods'

Asked about the impact of the conflict on Ukrainian children, Ms Vasylenko said: “Putin has stolen the childhood from millions of children.”

She said: “I have two children myself. My youngest is nine months.

“We will see a generation of Ukrainians grow up with the burden of war already on their shoulders. Thousands of babies are being born every day, and the first thing they see and they hear is missiles and sirens, and they have to spend their first hours of their lives in basements which is not the way it is supposed to be.”

She said that specialist support was needed for the “first wave” of children who have managed ot get out of Ukraine, with evidence of trauma already being seen in their behaviour.

She explained: “What we see is kids who have panic attacks, they wake up in the night screaming, they don’t sleep at night.

“I saw a child who just started beating his head on the floor in an uncontrollable attack, they need assistance. What they are experiencing is PTSD, having been not yet in the worst situation.”

The MP, who is a member of the Ukrainian Holos Party and Co-Chair of UK-Ukraine friendship Group, warned that there will be a “second wave” of possible even more damaged children and adults from cities such as Mariupol, which have been so heavily bombarded by Russia that around 90 per cent of the city has been destroyed.

Nuclear warnings

The group also warned of manoeuvres by Russia to cause a major nuclear accident, unrelated to their threats of using their own nuclear weapons in the conflict.

They said that there is an attempt by the Russians to exhaust staff working at any of Ukraine’s five nuclear power facilities, and while the stations themselves are very difficult to attack and destroy, the processing of nuclear waste could be where they attempt to cause chaos,

Ms Vasylenko explained: “ Putin could do a false flag [operation] over any of those five nuclear power stations, and if the personnel that is operating them is exhausted - as they are at the Zaporizhzhia, which is the largest in Europe by the way - a few missed buttons, or not pushing buttons at all will cause a disaster.

“Putin will blame that on Ukraine of course, but that won't even matter because everybody will be affected by radiation.

“Chernobyl in 1986 was one reactor and the radiation, it travelled as far out as in the UK, you can imagine what five reactors will do, let alone 15 reactors which are located across Ukraine.”

Firms should boycott Russia 

The group also called on British companies to leave Russia altogether, taking aim in particular at Marks and Spencer, Imperial Tobacco and Dentsu, a Japanese marketing and PR company which is headquartered in London.

They said that every penny made in the country which goes to the Kremlin was to fund “rape and death” of Ukrainians.

Batkivschyna party MP Alona Shkrum said: “The UK has been very active in [this area] and it was one of the first countries with a lot of companies to leave [Russia] but there are three big companies left - Marks and Spencer has not left Russia, unfortunately Imperial Tobacco has not left Russia…”

“This is very important for now, to put Putin in isolation economically and for him to know that ehw ill not be getting an handshake from the world, from business, there will be no sport or cultural events for him because he is killing more than 100 kids in Ukraine and he keeps killing them.

“Every rouble they make right now goes to the army and soldiers killing Ukrainian kids, in Ukraine. Putin is not spending this money on any other necessities – just the army, which is shelling our cities.”

M&S has 48 shops in Russia but they are operated by a franchise business in Turkey called FiBA Group.

The company said it has suspended shipments to FiBA’s Russian business due to “the unfolding humanitarian crisis following the invasion of Ukraine”.

M&S said it is providing £1.5 million in support for the UN Refugee Agency and UNICEF.

Dentsu said it was selling its stake in its Russian business to a "local partner" which would run it independently, adding that it was in full support of Ukraine.