Nicola Sturgeon: Vladimir Putin is ‘committing war crimes every day in Ukraine’

Nicola Sturgeon has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

The First Minister was speaking after Russian forces bombed a hospital in the city of Mariupol which killed three – including a child – and injured 17 others.

At First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said she was “horrified and deeply distressed” by the scenes in Ukraine, which has been under assault for two weeks.

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“Yesterday’s developments were a new low, a low I believe all of us hoped we would never see – the targeting of children and babies in a maternity hospital,” she said.

Vladimir Putin is committing, on a daily basis, crimes against international law, he is committing crimes against humanity, he is committing war crimes.

“It is important to do everything that is possible to stop Vladimir Putin, but it is also important to ensure that he pays the severest price for the actions that he is undertaking and the crimes he is committing now.”

Ms Sturgeon’s comments were echoed by other leaders in Holyrood, with Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, describing the Russian President as a “war criminal”.

Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, said: “Yesterday, the tragic events hit a new low, with a children’s hospital reduced to rubble.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Minster's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday March 10, 2022.

“Russians bombed a hospital and they targeted children. Young, innocent lives have been lost in the most despicable and atrocious way.

“It’s hard to express the anger and grief that we all feel at this appalling act.”

“Vladimir Putin must fail,” Mr Sarwar said. “But let’s also be clear Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and he must face justice.”

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They were speaking just hours after the UK Government announced plans to liberalise the visa process for people fleeing Ukraine who seek to come to the UK.

However, the leaders said the changes, which would allow for applications to be made online and supplementary paperwork and biometric checks undertaken when they reach Britain, did not go far enough.

“I welcome the limited movement that we have heard this morning from the Home Secretary,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“I think it needs to go further. I repeat my appeal to the Prime Minister to emulate the example of the Republic of Ireland, (and) of countries across the European Union, to waive visa requirements, to put sanctuary first and paperwork second.”

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The First Minister said she would write to the Prime Minister later on Thursday and implored other leaders to sign on to the correspondence.

Mr Ross said “more, much more” must be done to help refugees, while Mr Sarwar said: “This goes beyond party politics, this is about people fleeing war and not just seeking sanctuary but home here in Scotland.”

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said Russia has confirmed the use of thermobaric rockets – often called vacuum bombs – in Ukraine and is also “likely” deploying private mercenaries.

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The MoD said its Russian counterpart had confirmed the use of thermobaric rockets creating “incendiary and blast effects” in the invasion.

A video posted to Twitter by the MoD said the weapons were used by Russia in both Afghanistan and Chechnya.

Thermobaric weapons are not illegal but their use is strictly regulated..