Ukraine's foreign minister says Russian troops attacked kindergarten and orphanage

25 February 2022, 14:19 | Updated: 25 February 2022, 14:44

Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of targeting an orphanage
Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of targeting an orphanage. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Ukraine's foreign minister has accused Russia of war crimes following reported attacks on a nursery and orphanage.

Dmytro Kuleba posted on Twitter that officials were compiling a dossier to be sent to the Hague.

He posted online: "Today’s Russian attacks on a kindergarten and an orphanage are war crimes and violations of the Rome Statute.

"Together with the General Prosecutor’s Office we are collecting this and other facts, which we will immediately send to the Hague. Responsibility is inevitable."

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Further details of the reported attacks were not immediately available.

A local news outlet reported that Russian rockets hit a kindergarten in Okhtyrka, a town in Ukraine’s Sumy region. There were civilians injured some severely, and children were among them, it was reported.

There were also reports of hospitals being hit, along with many civilian residential buildings.

In the early hours of today Mr Kuleba said there had been "horrific rocket strikes" on Kyiv in an attack he compared to the city's 1941 shelling by Nazi Germany.

"Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany," he said.

"Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Severe all ties. Kick Russia out of (everywhere)."

Earlier, the country's President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered a full military mobilisation lasting 90 days.

Mr Johnson told his Cabinet on Thursday night that the UK could be proud of its role in supporting Ukraine, after the Prime Minister announced the "largest and most severe" package of sanctions Russia has ever faced to punish "blood-stained aggressor" Vladimir Putin.

"He said the UK could be proud of the actions it has taken so far, playing a leading role in Nato, developing a tough economic sanctions package together with our allies, and providing lethal defensive weaponry to the Ukrainian government," a No 10 spokesperson said.

"He told Cabinet that the Ukrainian military was fighting back in defiance of Putin's attempts to subjugate Ukraine. And he pointed to protests within Russia which demonstrated that Putin's actions would also face resistance from within his own country."

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace spoke to their Ukrainian counterparts on Thursday night.

Ms Truss tweeted: "We continue to support Ukraine politically, economically and defensively in the face of Russia's abhorrent invasion."

Earlier, Mr Johnson unveiled his second barrage of sanctions to "hobble the Russian economy".

Among the new UK sanctions introduced were measures to hit five further oligarchs, including the Russian president's former son-in-law, and to target more than 100 businesses and individuals.

Mr Johnson said he was sanctioning "all the major manufacturers that support Putin's war machine", will ban Aeroflot from touching down planes in the UK and will freeze the assets of all major Russian banks, including immediately against VTB.

But he resisted calls from some MPs and Ukraine's ambassador to London to support Nato introducing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Mr Johnson is understood to have pushed G7 leaders to cut Russia out of the Swift system, a type of international bank sort code.

In a White House briefing, US President Joe Biden said the move was "always an option but right now that's not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take".

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was reported to have said that certain measures should be "for a situation where it is necessary to do other things as well" when asked about Swift, while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was a "sensitive" issue "because it would also have an enormous impact on ourselves".

But Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted those who opposed Russia being blocked from the Swift payment system would have "the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children... on their hands".

However Mr Johnson said what he had announced amounted to "the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever seen".

In the US, Mr Biden also announced extra sanctions to target Russian banks, oligarchs and high-tech sectors, with more troops deployed to Germany to bolster Nato.

"Putin is the aggressor," Mr Biden said. "Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences."

A package of further EU sanctions was announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen early on Friday following a special meeting of the EU Council.

Ukraine's President described as heroes those who had died in the conflict. In a video address he said Russia's claim it was only attacking military targets as false and civilian sites also had been struck.

He said: "They're killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It's foul and will never be forgiven."

Mr Zelensky said all border guards on the Zmiinyi island in the Odesa region were killed on Thursday, while Ukraine also lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear site.

However local media reported troops had regained the Hostomel airport from Russian control.