Boris Johnson has accused Vladimir Putin of committing “a war crime” as he spoke during a session of PMQs preceded by a standing ovation for Ukraine’s ambassador.
As the Russian president’s attempt to invade Ukraine entered a seventh day, the prime minister condemned Mr Putin’s “abhorrent assault” on his country’s neighbour.
“What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin’s regime – in the use of munitions they have already been dropping on innocent civilians – in my view already fully qualifies as a war crime,” Mr Johnson told the House of Commons.
“I know the ICC [International Criminal Court] prosecutor is already investigating and I’m sure the whole House will support that.”
The PM’s censure of Mr Putin came after warnings that the Russian president’s actions would get “harder, tougher and more indiscriminate” as his invasion attempt lags “considerably” behind schedule..
In an intelligence update on Wednesday morning, the Ministry of Defence said heavy Russian artillery and airstrikes had continued to target built-up areas in the past 24 hours.
More than 2,000 civilians have so far died in a week of war with Russia, according to Ukraine’s state emergency service – although Sky News has not yet verified this information independently.
MPs stand to applaud Ukraine’s ambassador
At the beginning of Wednesday’s PMQs, the entire Commons chamber stood to applaud Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, as he sat in the gallery to observe proceedings.
Addressing Mr Prystaiko after MPs had ended their applause, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle noted – to some laughter – that MPs “generally do not allow applause in the chamber”.
“But I think on this occasion the House quite rightly want to demonstrate our respect and support for your country and its people at this most difficult time,” Sir Lindsay added.
In his opening remarks, Mr Johnson said Mr Putin had “gravely miscalculated” in his “abhorrent assault” on Ukraine.
“He has underestimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism,” the PM told the Commons.