The Russian Defense Ministry denied responsibility Thursday for striking a maternity and children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol and claimed without evidence that the explosions that hit the building were staged to smear Russia.
Ukrainian officials said that Wednesday’s Russian airstrike on the hospital killed three people, including a child. Seventeen people were also wounded, including women waiting to give birth, doctors, and children buried in the rubble. The attack has caused global outrage, with Western officials branding it a war crime.
Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov denied that the Russian military struck the hospital. Konashenkov claimed the blasts that ravaged the building were caused by explosive devices planted nearby in what he described as a “staged provocation to incite anti-Russian agitation in the West.”
Earlier Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed without providing evidence that the Mariupol hospital had been seized by far-right radical fighters who were using it as a base. Speaking at a news conference after talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ended with no progress on a ceasefire, Lavrov also alleged the hospital was empty of patients — despite the fact that photographs and video footage from the aftermath showed pregnant women and children at the site.
Those images of pregnant women covered in dust and blood dominated news reports in many countries and brought a new wave of horror over the 2-week-old war sparked by Russia's invasion, which has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians, shaken the foundations of European security and driven more than 2.3 million people from Ukraine.
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