Russian troops did not hit hospital in Mariupol; it's Kyiv's information provocation - Russian Defense Ministry
MOSCOW. March 10 (Interfax) - The Russian military said it did not carry out a strike on a hospital in Mariupol, dismissing reports on the matter as an information provocation staged by the Ukrainian authorities.
"Absolutely no tasks to hit targets on the ground were accomplished by Russian military aircraft in the area of Mariupol," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.
"The alleged airstrike that took place is a completely staged provocation in order to maintain the anti-Russian public outcry in the Western audience," he said.
Konashenkov described reports of a Russian airstrike on a Mariupol hospital on March 9 as "an information provocation staged by the Kyiv regime."
On March 9, the Russian Defense Ministry declared a temporary ceasefire for the safe evacuation of Mariupol residents, he said.
"We have reiterated on many occasions that medical facilities in Mariupol, including Hospital 3, ceased their regular operations back at the end of February. All staff and patients were dispersed by nationalists," Konashenkov said.
"The hospital building, due to its advantageous tactical location close to the city center, has been converted into a stronghold of the Azov national battalion. This is massively reported by city residents who have moved to the areas controlled by Kyiv as well as to those controlled by the Donetsk People's Republic," Konashenkov said.
"The photos of the hospital premises contain evidence of two separate staged explosions near the hospital. An underground one and another of low power directed at the hospital building," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.
"The nature of the external and internal damage to the building may mislead a mass non-professional audience in Europe and the United States, for whom this staging was made, but not experts," Konashenkov said.
"A high-explosive airborne ammunition, even of lower power, simply would have left nothing of the building's exterior walls. I emphasize that the militants trapped in the city are committing all these and other war crimes in Mariupol. We have repeatedly warned that as the encirclement tightens, the number of Nazi provocations will increase. There is nowhere for them to flee from there," Konashenkov said.