Russia doesn’t deny attack on children’s hospital: “But Ukrainian army used it as a base”

The airstrike that Russia carried out on the children’s hospital in the southern Ukrainian port of Mariupol is, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky, “the ultimate proof of genocide”. In a speech – partly in Russian – Zelensky spoke of a “war crime”, and there were also sharp reactions from the international community. Russia does not deny the attack, but states that “Ukrainian army units used the hospital as a base”.

The airstrike on the children’s hospital has caused massive destruction, and at least 17 people have been injured, Zelensky confirmed after earlier reports by local authorities. The air raid siren sounded prior to the bombing, and many staff and patients were said to have moved to the shelter, but children are still believed to be under the rubble.

“A children’s hospital, a maternity ward. How has that threatened Russia? Why is Russia so afraid of hospitals and maternity wards that it is destroying them? Is this the denazification of a hospital?” Zelensky said in Russian. He went on to call the bombing “more than cruel” in Ukrainian.

A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not deny the attack on the children’s hospital, according to the French news agency AFP. The spokesman said that “Ukrainian army units used the hospital as a base”.

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“Immoral Attack”

The international community also reacted sharply to the attack. “It is horrifying to see the barbaric use of military force against innocent civilians in a sovereign country,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a news conference.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the attack “horrific”.

On Twitter, Guterres said civilians are “paying the highest price for a war they have nothing to do with.” The senseless violence must stop, he says. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ventured it into an “immoral” attack.

The airstrike on the children’s hospital has caused massive destruction
The airstrike on the children’s hospital has caused massive destruction ©AP

Aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières could not confirm that the attack was a targeted attack, but noted that its staff noted that houses and hospitals had been damaged in fighting over the past few days.

The clash of arms in Mariupol has made it increasingly difficult to get healthcare, “especially for pregnant women and the elderly who are restricted in their movement,” said MSF emergency manager Kate White. Catherine Russell, the director of the children’s rights organization UNICEF, also said she was shocked by the reports from Mariupol. “We don’t know the number of victims yet, but fear the worst,” she says.

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