Mothers raped in front of their children in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims in UN address

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ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy reports on President Zelenskyy's stark address to the United Nations

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russian troops of raping Ukrainian mothers in front of their children as he urged the United Nations to convict Vladimir Putin of war crimes.

The leader told UN representatives of what he saw when visiting the "recently liberated" city of Bucha, where there was "not a single crime that they (Russian forces) would not commit".

He said Russian invaders had "killed entire families, adults and children and they tried to burn the bodies" and accused them of "wide-scale looting".

"Civilians were crushed by tanks... they cut off their limbs, slashed their throats," he said, "women were raped and killed in front of their children".

"Their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressor did not like what they heard," he added.

And Mr Zelenskyy suggested atrocities carried out in Bucha were just the tip of the iceberg.

President Zelenskyy delivered a video address from Kyiv in Ukraine to the UN in New York. Credit: AP

"Russian troops are deliberately destroying Ukrainian cities to ashes with artillery and air strikes, they are deliberately blocking cities, creating mass starvation.

"They deliberately shoot columns of civilians on the road trying to escape from the hostilities.

"They even deliberately blowing up shelters where civilians hide from air strikes. They are deliberately creating conditions in the temporarily occupied territories so that as many civilians as possible are killed there.

"The massacre in our city of Bucha is unfortunately only one of many examples of what the occupiers have been doing on our land for the past 41 days, and there are many similar cities, similar places, where the world has yet to learnt the full truth... dozens of other Ukrainians communities, each of them similar to Bucha."

Russia denies it has committed war crimes and says claims from Ukraine are manufactured.

Ukraine's leader also took a swipe at the United Nations Security Council, saying the alliance has been unable to guarantee safety and peace in eastern Europe in the face of Russian aggression.

"So where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It's not there," Mr Zelenskyy told UN representatives, "there is a Security Council so where is the peace?"

Speaking via video link to a United Nations meeting in New York, the Ukrainian president added: "It is obvious that the key institution of the world which must ensure the coercion of any aggressor to peace simply cannot work effectively."

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Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, meaning it has a veto over any attempts to condemn the Kremlin over what Mr Zelenskyy says are war crimes being carried out in Ukraine.

"This undermines the whole architecture of global security, it allows them to go unpunished so they are destroying everything that they can," he said.

Mr Zelenskyy accused Vladimir Putin's forces of creating "mass starvation" and said those responsible for atrocities in Ukraine should be "brought to justice" in a tribunal similar to the Nuremberg trials.

"The Russian military and those who gave them orders must be brought to justice immediately for war crimes in Ukraine," he said.

"Anyone who has given criminal orders and carried them out by killing our people will be brought before the tribunal, which should be similar to the Nuremberg tribunals."

He said Russian forces are "no different from other terrorists" such as the so-called Islamic State group, except "here it is done by a member of the United Nations Security Council".

"They support hatred at the level of the state and seek to export it to other countries through their system of propaganda and political corruption."

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Mr Zelenskyy had delivered an "important address" at the UN Security Council about the atrocities in the city close to Kyiv.

"The UK is using our presidency of the Council to hold Russia to account," she said.

"We will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice."

As ITV News' Libby Weiner reports, Boris Johnson has urged the Russian people to discover the truth about Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

In a video message directed to the Russian population, he said they only needed an online VPN connection to gain access to independent information from around the world.

“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.”

Speaking in Russian, he added: “Your president stands accused of committing war crimes. But I cannot believe he’s acting in your name.”