Boris Johnson has issued a direct appeal to the Russian people to reject President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
In a video message posted online, the Prime Minister described the atrocities committed by Russian troops as a “stain” on the country’s honour.
He urged Russians to get round Mr Putin’s controls on the media by seeking out for themselves the truth of what was happening from independent news outlets online.
His call came after the Kremlin claimed images of civilians said to have been killed by Russian soldiers in the town of Bucha were “fake news” having been staged by the Ukrainians themselves.
To the Russian people, look at what is being done in your name.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 5, 2022
You deserve the truth. You deserve the facts. pic.twitter.com/sqDxvGnTnp
In his message, Mr Johnson said the reports were so shocking that Mr Putin had deliberately sought to hide the truth from his people.
“Your president knows that if you could see what was happening, you would not support his war,” he said.
“He knows that these crimes betray the trust of every Russian mother who proudly waves goodbye to her son as he heads off to join the military.
“And he knows they are a stain on the honour of Russia itself. A stain that will only grow larger and more indelible every day this war continues.”
Mr Johnson said that people only needed a VPN connection to access independent information from around the world.
“When you find the truth, share it,” he said.
“Those responsible will be held to account. And history will remember who looked the other way.”
Speaking in Russian, he added: “Your president stands accused of committing war crimes. But I cannot believe he’s acting in your name”.