20 people were killed and 36 more were injured on Monday after a Ukrainian Tochka-U tactical ballistic missile exploded in the heart of the Donetsk People’s Republic’s capital.
The Russian Foreign Ministry characterised the attack as a “crime against humanity” and warned that it would “not go unpunished.”
Moscow is disappointed over Western silence in the wake of the 14 March attack on Donetsk civilians, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov has said.
“We are very, very disappointed that European leaders, my colleague [White House press secretary Jen] Psaki, her boss, US President Joe Biden, the leaders of international organisations, the leadership of NATO, have not said anything yesterday or today about Donetsk, or those civilian residents who died from the missile launched by the Ukrainian military,” Peskov said, speaking at a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.
“I will not give any personal assessment on this matter. I just want to state this and urge everyone to pay attention to this fact,” Peskov added.
A Ukrainian Tochka-U ballistic missile equipped with cluster munitions was shot down over the centre of the city of Donetsk on Monday, killing 20 civilians and injuring 36 others.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov suggested that the shelling of the Donetsk People’s Republic using such illegal cluster munitions was evidence that Ukrainian forces were seeking to kill as many civilians as possible, and said a decision on the Tochka-U’s use would require approval from the Ukrainian military leadership in Kiev.
The Russian army and its Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic allies launched a military operation aimed at demilitarising Ukraine on 24 February after weeks of escalating Ukrainian shelling, sabotage and sniper attacks on Donbass cities. The operation was started three days after Russia moved to recognise the self-proclaimed Donbass republics as independent states. Last week, the Russian Defence Ministry recovered and published documents it said served as evidence of Ukrainian plans to kick off a full-scale offensive in the Donbass starting in March.
The conflict in the Donbass began in the spring of 2014, when Kiev sent troops to try to crush a fledgling independence movement which arose in the aftermath of a Western-backed coup d’etat in Kiev. Over 14,000 people have been killed in the Donbass conflict over the past eight years, with Russian and European efforts to force Kiev to end the conflict diplomatically failing to bear fruit, and Ukraine’s leaders refusing to provide constitutionally-guaranteed autonomy to the breakaway regions in exchange for their return to Kiev’s jurisdiction.
Image Credit: Sputnik