The Russian foreign minister has dismissed outcry over the deadly bombing of a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol as “pathetic”.
Images showed pregnant woman being carried through rubble after the site was destroyed in the air strikes. Ukrainian authorities said one of the injured was a woman in labour.
On Thursday, Sergei Lavrov was asked in a press conference how Russia could justify the bombing.
“With regards to the maternity hospital, it is not the first time we have seen pathetic outcries concerning the so-called atrocities perpetrated by the Russian military,” the foreign minister replied, according to a BBC translator.
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He also claimed Ukrainian forces had taken over the maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol, an industrial port city that has been under attack for days, and there were no patients there at the time of the air strikes.
“What kind of country is this, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals, is afraid of maternity hospitals, and destroys them?” Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said in a televised address on the day of the strike.
The World Health Organisation said 18 attacks have been carried on on medical facilities in Ukraine since Russia launched its all-out invasion two weeks ago.
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The Mariupol hospital bombing - which Ukrainian authorities said injured pregnant women and buried patients under rubble - was condemned by the international community.
The UK’s defence minister condemned the act as a “war crime” on Thursday while the White House called it “a barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians”.
The bombing took place during a ceasefire period in Mariupol that was meant to allow civilians to safely flee. Similar attempts were called off at the weekend, with Ukrainian authorities accusing Russia of continuing attacks.
Local authorities said the city, which sits on the southeastern coast of Ukraine, suffered fresh air strikes the day after the hospital attack.
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