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Putin claims Ukrainian forces are committing ‘crimes against humanity’ in Donbass

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukrainian forces of committing “crimes against humanity” in the eastern Donbass region.

In an address to the 10th International legal forum in St Petersburg broadcast on state television, he said that measures needed to be taken to “protect the residents from genocide.

“There can be no other definition for the Kiev regime’s actions than a crime against humanity,” he said.

Ukrainian forces have been accused of a string of atrocities against civilians in the east of the country. 

At least 14,000 have been killed there since 2014, according to the United Nations, with more than 80 per cent of those killed Russian-speakers. 

It has become the scene of the most intense fighting of the conflict in Ukraine, with large parts of the region now under Russian control. 

World leaders gathered at the Nato summit in Madrid condemned a missile strike earlier this week in Kremenchuk, which Kiev said hit a shopping centre killing 18 people.

Yet an attack on residential areas in Donetsk in March, in which 23 people died, including children, passed with barely a comment, leading to charges of double standards.

Russia and Ukraine remain at loggerheads over blame for a string of atrocities which have seen both sides trading accusations of war crimes.

While blame was immediately apportioned to Russia for an attack on a train station in Kramatorsk, a number of journalists have claimed the Tochka rocket used in fact came from Ukrainian stocks. 

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has begun investigations into alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine since February. 

On Wednesday, a report detailed more than 100 cases of rape, damage done to about 230 schools, 182 medical facilities and 72 houses of worship, and almost 250 cases of arbitrary detention.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Lavrov warned of another “iron curtain” descending after Nato declared Moscow the “most significant and direct threat” to the security of its members. 

“The process has begun,” he said at a press conference.

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