British Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a video address Tuesday in which he speaks directly to the Russian people, telling them they "deserve the truth" about the invasion of Ukraine.
"The Russian people deserve the truth, you deserve the facts," Johnson said, speaking in Russian, at the outset of the nearly two-minute address before reverting to English.
The British leader said reports emerging from Ukraine of atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Russian forces were "so shocking, so sickening, it's no wonder your government is seeking to hide them from you."
"Your president knows that if you could see what was happening, you would not support his war," Johnson added, referring to Russia's leader Vladimir Putin.
He ended the video — posted on Twitter and other U.K. government social media channels — by again speaking in Russian, saying Putin "stands accused of committing war crimes."
"But I cannot believe he's acting in your name," the U.K. leader added.
Johnson's address comes as Russia is seeing an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting voices and independent journalism as the Kremlin tightly controls information about its invasion of Ukraine.
It has included dubbing NGOs and media outlets "foreign agents" — a label that carries strong pejorative connotations and implies increased government scrutiny.