Presenter Mark Austin has clashed angrily with Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov over the Kremlin’s line Ukraine staged the mass killing of civilians in Bucha which has been blamed on Russian troops. Mr Peskov was also challenged over the humiliating losses the Russian military has suffered since the invasion began.
Mark Austin told Mr Peskok: “The reason I said it’s not going to plan is you’ve retreated from the capital, President Zelensky is still in power. You’ve lost thousands of troops.
“You’ve lost six generals, hundreds of tanks and others it’s a humiliation really, isn’t it?”
The Russian spokesman responded: “No, it’s the wrong understanding of what is going on.”
Mr Austin snapped back: “But what is wrong with what I have just said?”
The host and spokesman clashed further over the discovery of hundreds of dead civilians in the formerly Russian held city of Bucha.
Mr Austin said: “So you’re UN ambassador who said there are no credible reports of civilian casualties and as regards Bucha, according to your ministry of defence on April 3, and I quote, ‘not a single local resident has suffered from any violent action while Russia was in control.’
“I mean, do you really expect the world to believe that when system then we insist on that and we insist that the whole situation in Bucha is a well-staged? insinuation? Nothing else?
Mr Peskov began to deny the involvement of Russian troops in the killing of civilians in Bucha before he was interrupted by the host.
“Let me just show you this satellite image,” snapped Mr Austin who produced images released by a private security company that appear to show bodies in the streets while Bucha was still occupied by Russia.
It comes as Ukraine stepped up calls on Thursday for financial sanctions crippling enough to force Moscow to end the war as its officials rushed to evacuate civilians from cities and towns in the east before an anticipated major Russian offensive there.
“Once and for all, we can teach Russia and any other potential aggressors that those who choose war always lose,” Zelensky said in an address to the Greek parliament. “Those who blackmail Europe with economic and energy crisis always lose.”
In a symbolic move, the United Nations General Assembly voted on Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the General Assembly had chosen the “right side of history”.
Washington, which banned Russian oil imports last month, took further steps on Wednesday to isolate Moscow, sanctioning two major lenders and President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, and banning U.S. investment in Russia. Washington also called for Russia’s expulsion from the Group of 20 major economies.
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The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, told a NATO meeting that new EU measures, including a ban on Russian coal, initially expected on Wednesday, could be passed on Thursday or Friday and the bloc would discuss an oil embargo next.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha were staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow and derail peace talks.
Ukrainian officials say that after withdrawing from Kyiv’s outskirts, Russian forces are regrouping to try to gain full control over the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been partly held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
The besieged southern port of Mariupol, where the mayor said over 100,000 people were still trapped, was also a target.