The defense secretary, a former captain in the Scots guards, did not hold back when asked what had shocked him most during the last 12 months of the war.
In an unusual move, the senior cabinet minister pointed the finger at the Russian armed forces, rather than just its leadership.
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Wallace made the comments on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion that has killed thousands and uprooted millions.
In the UK – which has issued more than 200,000 visas to Ukrainian refugees – a one-minute silence will be led by prime minister Rishi Sunak at 11 am.
Asked what had shocked him most during the war, Wallace told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “I think the conduct of the Russian armed forces…we started all of this saying this is about the Kremlin it’s not about the Russian people, it’s not about the Russian army.
“But the examples you have used show systematically right through their army it’s been accepted that that is an act of war. That it is OK to rape and murder and kill people and break the Geneva Conventions.
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“I think that is shocking, that an army that purports to be a world-leading major economy’s army feels that resorting to an activity that is almost medieval in the rape and pillage and destruction is somehow acceptable.”
Thousands of alleged war crimes have been reported in Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022.
Ukrainian authorities have outlined evidence of murders, executions, the bombing of civilian infrastructure, child abductions, torture, sexual violence, and illegal detention.
Britain is among those providing millions of pounds to support Ukrainian prosecutors investigating alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces.
According to UK intelligence, more than 16,000 civilians may have been killed since the start of the Ukraine war.
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Indiscriminate Russian shelling, which has seen severe damage to hospitals and schools, has contributed to the grim death toll, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
The MoD said that as of February 13, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded 18,955 civilian casualties since the start of the war.
That was made up of 7,199 deaths and 11,756 injuries. Some 697 civilian casualties occurred last month alone.
Writing for HuffPost UK earlier this week, Ukrainian MP Kira Rudik called for Russia to be declared a “terrorist state”.
“The Russian Federation deliberately chose terrorist attacks against the civilian population as a tactic of this war,” she said.
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“We can talk about the moral qualities of the soldiers of the Russian army and what they are capable of against civilians, but let’s also understand that they were not prohibited from doing this.
“Their command, the command of their command, and so on in a chain to the towers of the Kremlin, deliberately ordered not to spare civilians.”