Russia has accused the Ukrainian military of deliberately attacking a hospital in a Russian-controlled area of eastern Ukraine. This was a war crime, killing 14 people and injuring 24 patients and medical staff.
There was no immediate response to the allegations from Ukraine on Saturday.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the attack hit a hospital in the Russian-controlled Novo Aydar settlement and was carried out using a US-provided HIMARS rocket launch system.
“A deliberate missile attack on a civilian medical facility known to function is undoubtedly a serious war crime by the Kyiv regime,” it said. “Everyone involved in the planning and execution of this crime will be found and held accountable.”
Civilian and military medics had been working at the hospital for months, treating locals and soldiers, it said.
Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of committing war crimes frequently in conflicts that have killed thousands of civilians and reduced cities and towns to rubble from artillery and air strikes. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Meanwhile, three people were killed and more than a dozen injured after Russia attacked the eastern Ukraine city of Konstantinivka, the regional governor said on Saturday.
“Russian forces opened fire on a residential area, damaging four high-rise buildings, a hotel, a garage and a civilian car,” Donetsk Governor Pablo Kirilenko said on social media.
Kirilenko said rescue workers and police were on the scene, “helping people and carefully documenting another crime on our land by the Russian occupiers.”
Images posted on Kyrylenko’s Telegram account showed blown windows and an apartment building strewn with debris around the wreckage of a charred car.
Russia hit Konstantinivka with multiple rocket launchers, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Nearly a year after invading Ukraine, Moscow is trying to seize control of the entire Donetsk region, which it has already declared to be part of Russia.
“deliberately destroy the town”
Ukraine said this week that Russian forces had stepped up attacks in the east, particularly in the towns of Vgledal and Bakhmut.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said fighting was “very serious” near Bakhmut and Vkhreda, 200 kilometers (90 miles) to the south.
“The occupiers are not only raiding our positions, they are also deliberately and systematically destroying surrounding towns and villages,” he said.
As Ukrainian forces are fighting along the Southern Front, they are in a “fierce battle” with Russian soldiers for control of Vuhledar. Both sides claimed success in a small administrative center of flats surrounded by plains.
“The siege and subsequent liberation of this city will solve many problems,” said Denis Pushrin, the Moscow-appointed leader of the Donetsk region.
But Kyiv said the town, which had a population of about 15,000 before the invasion, was still contested. is being done,” he said.
“Decisive Strategic Action”
Bloomberg News reports that Russia is attempting to demonstrate that its forces can turn the tide of war by launching an all-out offensive after months of battlefield setbacks.
Citing unnamed Russian officials and advisers, the goal is to gain control of the eastern territories annexed last year and strengthen Moscow’s hand in future peace talks.
The US-based Institute for War Studies (ISW) think tank agreed with the report.
“The report is consistent with the ISW’s current assessment and projections that the Kremlin is likely preparing to carry out decisive strategic actions,” it said.
“ISW has previously assessed that a decisive strategic action in Luhansk province could be either a major offensive or a Russian defensive operation to defeat and exploit a Ukrainian counterattack. I did.”
A Ukrainian official said Russia could launch a major offensive near the anniversary of the start of the war last year.
“It’s no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24,” Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Chairman Oleksiy Danilov told Radio Liberty on Friday.
The goal, Danilov said, was to take over the entire Donbass (Donetsk and Luhansk) and “completely cross the borders of the region.”