Maria Butina, a member of the State Duma (a chamber of the Russian parliament), clashed with the Today programme’s Nick Robinson after suggesting the Ukrainians are bombing themselves.
Speaking on Wednesday, she said: “Russia is not bombing civilians.
“Russian military troops are actually creating humanitarian corridors.”
″Are you seriously claiming that they are not under attack from Russia?” Robinson replied.
Butina said: “You know, I want to seriously see the evidence that this is Russians.
“And as much as we know, me personally and my region, we help people evacuate from Donbas.”
Donbas a Ukrainian region controlled by Russian-backed separatists. It was one of the areas Putin formally recognised as independent of Ukraine ratcheting up the tensions just before he invaded.
“Hold on – no, no – stop, please,” Robinson cut in. “Are you suggesting the shells that are flattening Ukrainian cities are being fired by Ukrainians?”
The Russian politician continued: “I hope not, I hope no one in the world can bomb their own population.
“Well, I don’t want to believe that.”
The Today programme host replied: “What evidence have you got that millions of people are fleeing their own cities, that thousands are dying, because of countries bombing its own citizens – it’s prosperous!”
“As much as we see, we create humanitarian corridors,” Butina replied.
The Kremlin did briefly agree to a ceasefire but only if humanitarian corridors for fleeing Ukrainian civilians directed refugees into either Russia or its ally Belarus.
This was outright rejected by Ukraine.
During Wednesday’s interview, Robinson added: “I asked who fired the bombs, who fired the missiles, that are killing Ukrainian citizens and forcing millions to flee?”
“We have tons of evidence – Russian army does not fudge. They do not bomb civilian population, absolutely not.
“That is not the purpose of the operation. We cannot prove things like this, because we just don’t do it,” Butina replied.
Butina noticeably called the invasion an “operation” in reference to Putin’s “special military operation” – Russia is believed to be cracking down on anyone calling it a war or an invasion.
Hours after this interview, new footage released by the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed the devastating ruins of a children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
As broadcaster Jon Sopel pointed out: “Hard really to square [this] with Russia’s claim to be only hitting military targets. Either they’re not very good at aiming or...”