Up to 40,000 captured Ukrainians have been forced into slave labour in Russia, Mariupol’s deputy mayor has claimed.
Sergei Orlov, who remains in a bunker in the devastated port city, said children have been separated from their desperate families and taken into Russian hands.
He said Putin’s invading forces are bursting into Ukrainian hiding places and ordering them to leave within 15 minutes or they will be killed.
The shocking claims, which Orlov compared to Nazi tactics, are the latest in a growing series of war crime allegations against the Kremlin.
The official told The Sun: ‘We have made contact with people who have told us what is happening — they are being taken off to Russia to work for the state in depressed areas.
Up to 40,000 captured Ukrainians have been forced into slave labour in Russia, Mariupol’s deputy mayor has claimed
Putin’s invading forces are bursting into Ukrainian hiding places and ordering them to leave within 15 minutes or they will be killed. Pictured: Russian forces outside Kyiv yesterday
‘It is forced labour. They are having to work for Russia to survive. But worst of all, the Russians are separating children from parents when they take people out of our city.
‘Hundreds of children from kindergarten age upwards are being held at a hospital in Donetsk and kept away from their parents.’
Orlov said the city of Mariupol is completely devastated and now Russia is taking away its people too.
The Kremlin troops are using a sinister processing system called ‘filtration’ and are being taken behind enemy lines in eastern separatist regions, he claimed.
Men are then strip-searched for tattoos showing support for Ukrainian nationalism and all adults have their papers examined.
Destroyed cars are seen in front of an apartment building which was heavily damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol yesterday
Those considered suitable for work are then shipped off to labour camps and their passports withheld, the deputy mayor said.
Most are given menial jobs in deprived areas as far as Siberia regardless of their previous qualifications.
Sources behind Russian lines told Orlov that hundreds of terrified children are being kept at a Donetsk hospital.
Ukrainian human rights group ZMINA has also accused Russia of civilian abductions and is calling for their immediate release.
The UN has accused the Kremlin of abducting at least 36 civilians but the true scale of the mass detention is now believed to be far greater.
Valentina Demura, 70, stands next to the building where her apartment was destroyed in Mariupol
In the port city of Mariupol, around 170,000 civilians remain encircled by Russian forces, with ever-dwindling supplies of food, water and medicine.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the situation there was ‘catastrophic’ and the assault from land, sea and air had turned the once-thriving city of 450,000 people ‘into dust’.
The fall of Mariupol would free up Russian forces there and allow them to engage in a potential pincer movement together with another group of troops moving from Kharkiv in the northeast to try to encircle the Ukrainian military in the east.
Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday: ‘I’ve talked to the defenders of Mariupol today. I’m in constant contact with them. Their determination, heroism and firmness are astonishing.
‘If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had 1 per cent of their courage.’
Earlier on Sunday, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said the next round of face-to-face talks between Ukraine and Russia will take place in Turkey on March 28-30.
A part of a shell is seen in the street during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port of Mariupol
While Russia’s chief negotiator said the in-person talks would begin on Tuesday.
This week Erdogan said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s comments on the need for a referendum for compromises with Russia was ‘smart leadership’.
Speaking to reporters on a return flight from a NATO summit in Brussels, The Turkish president said his country could not impose sanctions on Russia due to its energy needs and cooperation.
Face to face peace negotiations will restart today, with Zelensky saying they must bring peace ‘without delay’ and indicating a willingness to compromise.
The two sides have not met in person in weeks, but will hold three days of talks in Istanbul from Monday, according to David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian negotiator, lawmaker and Zelensky ally.
Several rounds of talks have already failed to end the war sparked by the Russian invasion, which is now in its second month.
About 20,000 people have been killed, according to Zelensky, 10 million have fled their homes and despite Russian military setbacks, several cities are still coming under withering bombardment.