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Olena Zelenska: Russian troops raped four-year-old girl in Ukraine

Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska speaks during the opening of a Russian war crimes exhibition at Portcullis House in London on November 29, 2022. (Photo by James Manning / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JAMES MANNING/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska speaks during the opening of a Russian war crimes exhibition at Portcullis House in London. (Getty) (JAMES MANNING via Getty Images)

Russian troops are using violence against women as a weapon of war with rape victims as young as four and as old as 85, according to Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska.

In a speech to MPs and peers on Tuesday evening, Zelenska – the wife of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy – accused Russian forces of sexual violence and rape during the months-long Ukraine crisis, which is now heading into a long winter.

She said the youngest known victim was among the “thousands” of such crimes and said the UK must become a “world leader” in securing justice.

Zelenska said: “We do not know how many boys and girls and women and men became the victims of torture and violence brought by the Russian occupiers.

Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska reacts at the opening of a Russian war crimes exhibition at Portcullis House in London on November 29, 2022. (Photo by James Manning / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JAMES MANNING/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Olena Zelenska accused Russian forces of sexual violence and rape during the months-long war. (Getty) (JAMES MANNING via Getty Images)

“But it’s important to understand that Russia brought the systematic violence…

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“We have documented thousands of crimes including sexual violence.

“The youngest girl who was raped by the Russian occupiers was four years old. The oldest survivor was 85.”

Watch: Olena Zelenska addresses MPs during her visit to UK

Standing in front of both a Union and Ukrainian flag, she added: “Justice like victory is not possible without allies.”

Zelenska argued that the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have the legal force to punish Moscow for its invasion.

Through a translator, she said: “We need to start the special tribunal against the crime of aggression of Russia against Ukraine, which will enhance the work of the ICC and not weaken it.”

Stirring up comparisons between the Ukraine crisis and the Second World War, she went on: “We need to unite the world community just as it happened in January 1942 to support the special tribunal against the aggression of Russia against Ukraine.

CHASIV YAR, UKRAINE - NOVEMBER 28: A view of a destruction caused by Russian missiles, as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on November 28, 2022. (Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Olena Zolenska asked the UK to be a 'world leader' in bringing Russia to justice over their invasion of Ukraine. (Getty) (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“I’m asking you a small favour to become the world leader in the justice efforts.

“I believe that London can give this decisive impetus so that the world can become better, fairer, thanks to you.”

House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle introduced Zelenska by saying it was parliamentarians’ duty to “keep the world awake” to the horrors of Russia’s invasion as he praised her “bravery”.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson, who had offered vocal support to Ukraine during his premiership, attended the speech alongside Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska and Akshata Murthy, wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after a meeting at Downing Street on November 28, 2022 in London, England. Zelenska's husband, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has not left his country since the start of Russia's invasion in February 2022. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Olena Zelenska met Akshata Murthy, wife of prime minister Rishi Sunak at Downing Street on Monday. (Getty) (Leon Neal via Getty Images)

Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt was also in attendance, alongside MPs from across all parties.

After her speech, Zelenska toured an exhibition in Portcullis House detailing alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine alongside Hoyle, who called the images “shocking, distressing and appalling”.

It came after she visited Downing Street and met prime minister Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murthy, on Monday.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly is at a gathering of Nato foreign ministers in Romania this week, which will discuss how to continue support for Ukraine throughout the cold winter months.

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Click on this image to see all Yahoo News UK's latest content on the Ukraine crisis