May 27, 2024

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Russia changes hospital bombing line in Ukraine

Russia changes hospital bombing line in Ukraine

A person is transported after the Mariupol Children’s Hospital is destroyed as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022 in this still image from a video post obtained by Reuters. Ukrainian army photo via Reuters

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LONDON (Reuters) – Russia on Thursday changed its stance on the bombing of a Ukrainian hospital in Mariupol with a mixture of strong denials and calls for clear facts.

Ukraine’s president on Wednesday accused Russia of genocide after officials said Russian planes bombed a hospital and buried patients under rubble despite a ceasefire agreement for people to flee the besieged city.

“Russian forces do not fire at civilian targets,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters in response to a request for comment in the immediate aftermath.

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On Thursday, he said the Kremlin would look into the incident.

“We will certainly ask our military, because we do not have clear information about what happened there,” Peskov told reporters. It is very likely that the military will provide some information.”

Other Russian officials took a tougher line on Thursday, dismissing the hospital bombing as false news.

“This is information terrorism,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Dmitry Polyansky, the first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the United Nations, went even further, saying that the building that was bombed was a former maternity hospital that had been taken over by Ukrainian forces.

“This is how the fake news was born,” he said, adding that Russia warned on March 7 that the hospital had turned into a military target from which the Ukrainians were shooting.

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The contradictory tone and content of the statements were unusual for Russian officials, who since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 have maintained unity and consistency in their messages.

Moscow says it is conducting a special military operation to disarm and “disarm” Ukraine. Kyiv and the West reject these arguments as false excuses to invade a democracy of 44 million people.

The United States on Wednesday denied renewed Russian accusations of Washington operating biological warfare laboratories in Ukraine, calling the allegations “laughable.” Read more

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Additional reporting by Olsas Oysoff and Guy Faulconbridge. Editing by Hugh Lawson

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