Ukraine passes new law allowing citizens to kill Russian soldiers at will

A new law has reportedly been introduced in Ukraine allowing civilians to kill Russian soldiers without punishment.

The decree should mean civilians are not criminally liable under Ukrainian laws should they engage with invading soldiers.

Ukranian journalist

, who is Defence and Security correspondent the Kyiv Independent news site, shared an image of the decree on Twitter.

It appeared to show that the new law has now been signed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

It reads: "Civilians shall not be criminally liable for the use of firearms against persons who carry out armed aggression against Ukraine, if such weapons are used in accordance with the requirements of the Law of Ukraine."

People have raised concerns about the wider implications of the bill with regards to the status of Ukrainians under the Geneva Convention, which protects civilians in areas of armed conflicts or occupied territories.

One Twitter user replied: "A new bill turns all civilians in Ukraine into combatants, eliminating their status as protected persons under Geneva Convention – am I missing something?"

However, in light of the harrowing amount of Ukrainian civilian casualties, another Twitter user argued: "Tell us more how all those civilians who were already killed by Russian occupiers were protected by Geneva Convention."

The new law also gives Ukrainian civilians open access to firearms, but notes that when the conflict ends these must be handed straight back to authorities.

This comes as Vladimir Putin's forces continue to attack civilian targets.

On Wednesday afternoon a children's hospital and maternity ward in the southern port city of Mariupol was destroyed by a Russian airstrike.

Distressing images on social media showed a pregnant woman being carted across rubble, clearly injured in the chaos.

Zelenskyy has said in response: "Hospitals and schools are destroyed. Churches and ordinary buildings are destroyed. People are killed. Children are killed.

"Air bombing on a children’s hospital is the ultimate evidence that genocide of Ukrainians is happening.

"Europeans, Ukrainians, Mariupol residents, we have to stand united in condemning Russia for this crime that reflects all evil that the invaders have brought on us, on all destroyed cities: Volnovakha, Izyum, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Okhtyrka, Borodyanka, Hostomel, Zhytomyr and tens of our Ukrainian cities that never posed any threat to Russia."

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