A Ukrainian MP today called on Boris Johnson and Joe Biden to visit her country to see Russian atrocities with their “own eyes”.
Speaking exclusively to HuffPost UK, Lesia Vasylenko said the prime minister and US president should travel to Ukraine to “see how freedom is really fought for”.
She said it would be a huge sign of support for Ukraine and could help speed up an end to the war.
However, the mother-of-three accused the west of watching the war in Ukraine like it was a “boxing match” and went on to accuse western leaders of doing the “bare minimum” and pursuing a policy of appeasement with Putin.
Vasylenko said she was confident the west will eventually enter the war but only after millions have died, adding: “That blood, those lives, are on their hands.”
Telling Biden and Johnson to visit Ukraine, Vasylenko said: “It’s one thing to read about things in the news, it’s another thing when you’re down on the ground.
“When you can smell war in the air, when you can feel it around every single corner, when you hear the sirens, when you see the devastation.
“They call themselves the leaders of the free world, well the free world is being forged under missile fire in Ukraine.
“So, come and see how freedom is really fought for and is really created. Come and see with your own eyes.
“There shouldn’t be any fear coming to Ukraine, many other parliamentarians, leaders of political parties, speakers of parliaments have already come to Ukraine.
“The EU president was there just last week, they came out as far as Kyiv. There are security concerns but they can be worked around.
“The stance that the international community has taken is to stand on the sidelines and watch Ukraine as if it was a boxing match or a TV documentary”
“It would be a massive sign of support to the Ukrainian people if they are there on the ground, if they see it with their own eyes.
“I think it could shift many things and would actually lead to an end of this war much quicker.”
Vasylenko, who was elected in 2019 for the liberal Holos party, was among four female MPs who visited the UK last month to meet British politicians including Johnson.
Her comments follow a report in the Daily Mail two weeks ago that claimed Johnson was considering a trip to Kyiv.
Earlier today the prime minister said the actions of Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Bucha “doesn’t look far short of genocide”.
Ukrainian officials have said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been discovered in Bucha and other towns around the capital, Kyiv, after they were recaptured from the Russians.
Each day more details of Russian atrocities emerge including mass graves, the rape and murder of children and women and men shot in the streets.
Vasylenko has been detailing allegations of Russian war crimes through her social media accounts.
They include claims that Russian soldiers have raped girls as young as ten and branded women’s bodies with swastikas.
She also shared a devastating photograph of a woman who was allegedly tortured, raped, killed and branded with a swastika.
Vasylenko warned western leaders: “The atrocities are not going to stop. They’re just going to proceed and progress.
“This is going to happen in part because of the stance that the international community has taken and their stance is to stand on the sidelines and watch Ukraine as if it was a boxing match or a TV documentary.
“They’re doing the bare minimum right now. Thank you for that bare minimum, it’s important, without it we wouldn’t have the weapons and Russia would still be standing strong economically and would not be isolated from the rest of the world. So we appreciate it.
“But at the same time, they have to realise that in Ukraine, we don’t have any illusion about what’s happening and we understand that we’re on our own in this.”
“They are hoping that Ukraine will cope on their own. Well, they’re not, we’re not going to cope on our own.”
Vasylenko said there was a reason the UN charter calls for collective action when there is a crime of aggression, because it leads to “millions of deaths” and the disintegration of international peace.
“This was the case during World War Two, when when appeasement of Hitler was a popular strategy in an attempt not to have a world war, but at the end of the day, that happened anyway. It just happened much later when Germany already got much stronger,” she added.
“It’s the same thing which is happening now. The responsibility that each one of those global leaders has towards their own people and towards their international partners is to stop this aggression and they are not doing that.
“They are hoping that Ukraine will cope on their own. Well, they’re not, we’re not going to cope on our own.
“And I’m very confident that they will be entering this war sooner or later, time will show.
“But by that time, many lives will have been lost, many civilian and innocent lives and that blood, those lives, are on their hands.”
She said every day they think they might be through the worst of it, then a new atrocity is uncovered.
The MP said there were “no words” to describe the atrocities, adding: “I still can’t even face the fact that it’s a reality.
“It’s not understandable how a human being could do that to another human being.
“The children with the tied hands, the men who were just being shot just because they came outside, a mother who buried her daughter in the backyard because her daughter just came out onto the porch to see what was going on.
“Every single street in those towns has a story to tell and every single house has lost somebody.
“It’s not like there was a bomb dropped and then everybody died because of it.
“They are physical atrocities being committed against each of those people who are now found killed - and it was another person it was a Russian soldier who was at the other end, shooting, torturing, beating.
“So I think that this is the most difficult thing to comprehend. How one human being - not somewhere far away across the screen pressing a button - but to physically cause so much damage, pain and suffering to another human being who’s right there next to you, who looks exactly like you, speaks the same language as you do. How could they do that?”
She called for UN peace keepers to be sent to Ukraine, more sophisticated weapons, tougher sanctions and reparations from Russia.
Vasylenko also said they needed more efforts now to remove mines from Ukraine’s territories, adding: “The number of land mines has now increased drastically because every time Russia leaves, they leave mines, they leave explosive mechanisms attached to people’s door handles, to stairs. So we need a stronger effort on that.”