Russian troops 'build torture chambers and abduct local leaders' in campaign of terror

18 April 2022, 07:21

Russians have built torture chambers in southern Ukraine, the president has warned
Russians have built torture chambers in southern Ukraine, the president has warned. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Russian troops have built torture chambers and kidnapped community leaders in southern Ukraine, the country's president has claimed.

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy said invaders were carrying out a campaign of "deliberate terror" against civilians.

He also accused Russia of introducing its currency, the ruble, into occupied regions in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, where they are carving out breakaway states.

In an evening address about the situation in southern Ukraine, Mr Zelenskyy said: "Torture chambers are built there.

"They abduct representatives of local governments and anyone deemed visible to local communities."

Read more: Moskva mystery: Russia releases video 'showing crew for first time' since flagship sunk

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations of atrocities but it has been criticised for trying to present the targeting of civilians as Ukrainian attacks on their own people.

Mr Zelenskyy warned of an impending Russian attack in eastern Ukraine beginning "in the near future", with Moscow redoubling its efforts there after failing to capture the capital Kyiv earlier in the war.

Sanctions are only effective on a 'really weak country'

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, 18 people have been killed and 106 were wounded in the last four days, Mr Zelenskyy said.

"This is nothing but deliberate terror. Mortars, artillery against ordinary residential neighbourhoods, against ordinary civilians," he said.

Meanwhile, theft of humanitarian aid has triggered a famine, the president added.

"Everyone in Europe and America already sees Russia openly using energy to destabilise Western societies," he said as he called for more action against Moscow.

"All of this requires greater speed from Western countries in preparing a new, powerful package of sanctions."

Russians continue to try and capture Mariupol after seven weeks of defence.

Russia releases video of 'surviving crew' of sunken Moskva ship

It would allow Moscow to secure a victory after its failure to take Kyiv and the humiliating sinking of its Black Sea flagship, the Moskva.

The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said the city effectively no longer exists because of the massive destruction wreaked across the coastal area.

The city's defenders refused to abide by a Russian ultimatum to surrender the city.

"Russian commanders will be concerned by the time it is taking to subdue Mariupol. Concerted Ukrainian resistance has severely tested Russian forces and diverted men and materiel, slowing Russia's advance elsewhere," the UK's Ministry of Defence said.