Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Russia accuses Ukraine of trying to frame it over Mariupol theatre attack

Russia instead accuses the Azov Battalion of blowing up the building after holding hostages there and using the upper floors from which to fire at Russian forces.

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The Russian foreign ministry said on Thursday that a Ukrainian allegation that the Russian air force had bombed a theatre in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol was a lie and that the truth would emerge despite what it called attempts to frame Moscow.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Wednesday alleged that Russian forces had dropped a powerful bomb on the theatre where hundreds of civilians were sheltering in the encircled Ukrainian city and accused Moscow of committing a war crime.

Reuters could not independently verify either report.

Maria Zakharova, a spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry, told a briefing on Thursday that Kyiv was trying to frame Russia.

“The Kyiv regime immediately tried to blame the Russian military, who, in its view, allegedly dropped a bomb from the air on the theatre,” said Zakharova.

“Of course, this is a lie. It is well known to everyone that the Russian armed forces do not bomb cities. No matter how many videos are doctored by Nato structures and how many video clips and photo fakes are pumped out, the truth will come out.”

The Ukrainian government did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Zakharova’s statements.

Russia’s defence ministry denied the Ukrainian allegations a day earlier and instead accused the Azov Battalion, a far-right Ukrainian militia, of blowing up the building after holding hostages there and using the upper floors from which to fire at Russian forces.

The Azov fighters have a base in Mariupol. Ukraine is sticking to its version of events.

Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for Russia’s defence ministry, said in a statement that Ukrainian footage appeared to show that all the windows of nearby buildings were intact and that there was no evidence on the ground of a bomb being dropped from the air.

The Ukrainian authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Konashenkov’s statements.

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