A petition that calls for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be arrested and tried as a war criminal over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has gone viral.
Almost 800,000 people from around the world have signed a petition so far, including two former British prime ministers – Gordon Brown and John Major.
The petition’s authors are calling on world leaders to “hold Putin and his accomplices personally accountable for their illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
The petition went live on March 14 and is being supported by people from every continent.
The organizers hope that one million people will add their names to the list.
Russia has faced heavy international criticism since launching its unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which has resulted in vast numbers of civilian casualties.
Among the targets hit by Russian missiles and artillery are hospitals and apartment complexes.
Security experts have said Russian commanders have changed tactics because their initial plans for a rapid victory have failed.
The UK’s armed forces minister, James Heappey, said the indiscriminate shelling of cities was “very probably” a war crime.
Heappey added that Putin bore ultimate “culpability” for the atrocities but noted that there is the potential for anyone in the chain of command to be prosecuted.
“The evidence being gathered points very much towards war crimes being committed in Ukraine,” he told Sky News.
“The culpability for war crimes sits absolutely with the leader of the Russian government, the man who decided to do all of this in the first place,” he said.
“It is not just Putin who ends up being responsible for war crimes as and when the evidence is gathered and people are held to account.
“They too are involved in the prosecution of war crimes in Ukraine.
“This is a stain on the Russian nation.”
Britain’s chief of defence intelligence Lieutenant General Sir Jim Hockenhull said the Kremlin has been forced to switch tactics, turning to the “reckless and indiscriminate” use of firepower which will inevitably lead to more civilian casualties.
The Russians have “enormous” stocks of artillery ammunition and could maintain their bombardment for weeks in an attempt to force Ukraine into submission, Western officials say.
Gen Hockenhull said that more than three weeks into the campaign, it is clear the Kremlin has still not achieved any of its initial objectives.
“It has been surprised by the scale and ferocity of Ukrainian resistance and has been bedeviled by problems of its own making,” he told journalists.
“Russian operations have changed.
“Russia is now pursuing strategy of attrition.
“This will involve the reckless and indiscriminate use of firepower.
“This will result in increased civilian casualties, disruption of Ukrainian infrastructure and intensify the humanitarian crisis.”
As many as 7,000 Russian troops have died so far in the fighting, including four major generals and a number of other senior officers, U.S. intelligence sources estimate.