Fury as Lavrov brands outcry over maternity unit strike which killed three as 'pathetic'

10 March 2022, 14:29 | Updated: 10 March 2022, 14:41

Lavrov says outcry over maternity hospital bombing is 'pathetic'
Lavrov says outcry over maternity hospital bombing is 'pathetic'. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Sergei Lavrov branded an attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol a "pathetic outcry" during failed peace talks in Turkey today.

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The Russian Foreign Minister claimed during his meeting with Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba that Russia "did not attack Ukraine" insisting instead that troops were carrying out "special operations" in the region.

Speaking after the the "difficult" meeting, Lavrorv said: "We are not planning to attack other countries. We didn't attack Ukraine, either."

When asked about the air strike during the press conference, Putin's confidant replied: "It is not the first time we see pathetic outcries concerning the so-called atrocities perpetrated by the Russian military."

He went on to claim that the hospital had been taken over by the Azov battalion - a volunteer group fighting alongside the Ukrainian army- and prior to the attack all the "mothers and nurses were chased out" of the hospital.

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It comes after Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that three people died in the attack, including a girl aged six.

Authorities say at least 17 people were injured in yesterday's attack in the south-eastern city.

Many of the pregnant women present at the hospital survived because they were hiding the the basement at the time of the strike on the orders of hospital authorities, it is reported.

The official Twitter account for the Russian Embassy to the UK also took to twitter to brand the hospital bombing "fake news".

They wrote: "The maternity house was long non-operational. Instead, it was used by armed forces and radicals, namely the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion."

Adding: "Threat to civilians in Ukraine is posed not by Russian military who do not target civil infrastructure, but by Ukrainian radicals and neo-Nazis who hold population of several cities as hostage."

The controversial tweets have prompted calls for Twitter to suspend the account to prevent the spread of Russian propaganda.

The Russian Foreign Minister also accused the West of providing Ukraine with weapons and claimed that the US has been building laboratories in Ukraine for the development of chemical weapons.

He said: 'We see how dangerously our Western colleagues, including in the European Union, are acting now, which, in violation of all its so-called principles and values, encourages the supply of deadly weapons to Ukraine.

"We are very concerned of all this information that came to light that the Pentagon has created dozens of biological laboratories on the Ukrainian territory as part of their program of creating these laboratories all over the world in violation of the convention on prohibition of biological weapons."

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Following the meeting Dmytro Kuleba said: "I want to repeat that Ukraine has not surrendered, does not surrender, and will not surrender."

Armed forces minister James Heappey told LBC's Nick Ferarri at Breakfast that the "absolutely despicable" attack amounted to a war crime whether Russian troops intended to target the hospital or not.

"Whether that is a deliberate targeting of a hospital, which is a war crime, or whether that is the use of artillery or missiles indiscriminately without due regard in your targeting for a protected site, that also is a war crime," he said.

"We need to be clear that what’s going on right now is an abomination. Putin needs to stop."

Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday accused Russia of an "atrocity" after the hospital in Mariupol was targeted.

The Ukrainian President took to Twitter to confirm the attack saying: "Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital.

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"People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the attack saying: "There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless.

"The UK is exploring more support for Ukraine to defend against air strikes and we will hold Putin to account for his terrible crimes."