Russia has accused the Ukrainian military of killing 14 people in a ‘deliberate’ strike on a hospital in Kremlin-held territory today.
Russia’s Defence Ministry claims Kyiv launched a ‘deliberate missile strike’ on a ‘known functioning civilian medical facility’ using US-made HIMARS rockets.
The alleged attack, which has not yet been independently verified, is said to have left at least two dozen patients and medical staff wounded.
Moscow branded the attack a ‘serious war crime’ and vowed to hold all involved accountable. Ukraine has not immediately responded to the allegations.
The strike comes as it was revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a ‘new pre-emptive strike’ in Ukraine ahead of the first anniversary of their invasion on February 24 last year.
Moscow has accused the Ukrainian military of killing 14 people in a ‘deliberate’ strike on a hospital in Russian-held territory today
Russia’s Defence Ministry claims Kyiv launched a ‘deliberate missile strike’ on a ‘known functioning civilian medical facility’ using US-made HIMARS rockets
‘A deliberate missile strike against a known functioning civilian medical facility is without doubt a serious war crime by the Kyiv regime,’ Russia’s defence ministry said today.
‘All those involved in the planning and execution of this crime will be found and held accountable.’
Civilian and military medics had been working in the hospital in Novoaidar for many months, treating local people and soldiers, it said.
Novoaidar is located in Luhansk province, which is almost entirely under the control of Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists.
The Russian Defence Ministry claimed the hospital was deliberately targeted, however the strike could not be immediately verified.
Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of frequent war crimes in the conflict in which thousands of civilians have been killed and cities and towns pounded by artillery and air strikes. Russia denies targeting civilians.
The strike comes as it was revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a ‘new pre-emptive strike’ in Ukraine ahead of the first anniversary of their invasion on February 24 last year
News of the alleged strike followed the release of satellite photos showing Putin’s forces building up fortifications.
Moscow is said to be planning a ‘new pre-emptive strike’ and preparing for a new offensive ahead of the first anniversary of their invasion.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, said: ‘Now they are preparing for maximum activation, and they believe that by the anniversary they should have some achievements.’
‘There is no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24, as they themselves say,’ he told Radio Svoboda.
He also said that the Russian military has been ‘scouting’ the defence capabilities of Ukrainian troops in the Zaporizhzhia region for a week.
Analysis from Brady Africk, an open-source intelligence analyst, shows Russian new fortifications all along the front in Luhansk, from the Russian border down to Donetsk, and throughout Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
It comes as a video captured a single Russian tank being destroyed by a mine near Donetsk, in what may have been part of a spoiling attack tactic ‘to disperse and distract Ukrainian forces’ ahead of their counter-offensive.
A satellite image from March 2022 (left) and January 2023 (right) shows that Russia is building new lines of defence (trenches in picture on the right) as it reportedly prepares for an offensive next month
The video begins with a single tank driving down a nearly destroyed roads as an artillery shell lands ahead of it
Shortly after the second explosion another blast is seen, possibly from the tank itself
Meanwhile, Ukraine and its Western allies are engaged in ‘fast-track’ talks on the possibility of equipping the invaded country with long-range missiles and military aircraft, a top Ukrainian presidential aide said today.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Ukraine’s supporters in the West ‘understand how the war is developing’ and the need to supply planes capable of providing cover for the armoured fighting vehicles that the United States and Germany pledged at the beginning of the month.
However, in remarks to online video channel Freedom, Podolyak said that some of Ukraine’s Western partners maintain a ‘conservative’ attitude to arms deliveries, ‘due to fear of changes in the international architecture.’
Russia and North Korea have accused the West of prolonging and taking a direct role in the war by sending Kyiv increasingly sophisticated weapons.
‘We need to work with this. We must show (our partners) the real picture of this war,’ Podolyak said, without naming specific countries.
‘We must speak reasonably and tell them, for example, “This and this will reduce fatalities, this will reduce the burden on infrastructure. This will reduce security threats to the European continent, this will keep the war localized.” And we are doing it.’
A view shows an apartment building damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region today
Remains inside a building damaged by a Russian military strike are seen, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region today
A view shows a tree smashed by shell fragments during a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region today
The US and Germany agreed on Wednesday to share advanced tanks with Ukraine along with the Bradley and Marder vehicles promised earlier, a decision that led to criticism not only from the Kremlin but from the prime minister of NATO and European Union member Hungary.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban asserted yesterday that Western countries providing weapons and money to assist Ukraine in its war with Russia have ‘drifted’ into becoming active participants in the conflict.
Orban has refused to send weapons to neighbouring Ukraine and sought to block EU funds earmarked for military aid.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it would summon Hungary’s ambassador to complain about Orban’s remarks.
A ministry spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko, said Orban told reporters that Ukraine was ‘a no-man’s land’ and compared it to Afghanistan.
‘Such statements are completely unacceptable. Budapest continues on its course to deliberately destroy Ukrainian-Hungarian relations,’ Nikolenko said in a Facebook post.
President Joe Biden’s announcement that the US would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine reversed months of arguments by Washington that they were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain.
The US decision persuaded German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who had expressed concern about a unilateral action drawing Russia’s wrath, to agree to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany’s stocks and to allow European countries with tanks to send some of theirs.
Western weapons have proven essential to Ukraine’s defence while stoking ever-higher tensions with Moscow.
A woman walks near a residential building destroyed by a Russian missile attack in the town of Glevakha, Kyiv region yesterday
A burned tank sits next to a road in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine yesterday
Ukrainian servicemen take cover Thursday as they fire a mortar load on the Donbass frontline
Amid the news of the Western pledges of heavy tanks, Russia bombarded Ukraine with missiles, exploding drones and artillery shells this week.
The attacks continued today, when Russian missiles struck the city of Kostyantynivka in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province.
The missiles fell in a residential area, killing three civilians, wounding 14 and damaging four high-rise apartment buildings, a hotel and garages, Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
‘Kostyantynivka is a city relatively far from the front line, but still, it constantly suffers from enemy attacks. Everyone who remains in the city exposes themselves to mortal danger,’ Kyrylenko said.
‘The Russians target civilians because they are not able to fight the Ukrainian army.’
In a separate Telegram post earlier today, Kyrylenko reported that Russian attacks in the province killed four civilians in all and wounded seven others in 24 hours.
Russian rockets hit a residential area the Donestsk town of Chasiv Yar yesterday night, killing of two people and wounding five more, the governor said.
Photos attached to Kyrylenko’s post showed a three-story school building on fire.
Rubble is strewn across the ground in Russian-occupied Makiivka, in the eastern Donbas region, in the aftermath of the strike. The missiles hit a vocational school which had been turned into a barracks for Russian forces
Ukrainian soldiers are seen on their ways to the frontlines with their armored military vehicles as the strikes continue on the Donbass frontline on Thursday
Donetsk province, where the territory is roughly split between Russian and Ukrainian control, has become the battle epicentre of the war as Moscow tries to jump-start a months-long, grinding offensive to capture the city of Bakhmut.
Chasiv Yar lies on a hill strategically located for the defence of Bakhmut, and has come under intensified Russian shelling.
Capturing Bakhmut would allow Russian troops to disrupt Ukrainian supply lines and potentially pave the way for them to threaten Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the largest remaining Ukrainian-held cities in the country’s east.
Russian forces continued ground attacks around Bakhmut and Avdiivka, another Donetsk city to the south, while Ukrainian troops were on the offensive in southern and northeast Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said in an update this morning.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that Russian troops ‘are defending themselves’ near Lyman in Luhansk and Kharkiv provinces north of Donetsk, as well in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces in the south.
Local resident Yevheniia Yepifanova, 83, stands next to her house damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region today
A local resident stands at the window of her apartment building damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region today
Anatolii, a local resident, walks inside his apartment destroyed by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region today
The fighting has largely been deadlocked over the past months, with winter conditions slowing down ground operations and neither side reporting significant progress.
In the same update, the military reported that Russian forces launched 10 missile strikes, 26 air strikes and 81 shelling attacks on Ukrainian territory between yesterday morning and this morning.
The shelling killed two civilians in Kherson, another province that is partly Russian-occupied.
Podolyak, the presidential adviser, said Ukraine needs supplies of Western long-range missiles ‘to drastically curtail the key tool of the Russian army’ by destroying the warehouses where it stores cannon artillery used on the front line.