More than 14,000 people have since been killed in fighting between the Ukrainian army and militias that control Donetsk and another neighboring Russian-speaking province, Lugansk, located further north, which also broke away from Ukraine and proclaimed itself an independent republic. The militias have joined the offensive that Russian troops have been carrying out in Ukraine since they invaded the country on February 24.
During a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced a “new barbaric act by the Ukrainian army,” according to the Kremlin.
The president also accused the Ukrainian forces of having used “submunition weapons”, prohibited by international treaties due to their destructive and indiscriminate impact over a wide area, with the risk that this entails for civilians.
At least 23 people died and another 19 were injured this Monday in the city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, by an attack by the Ukrainian Army with a ballistic missile, reported local and Russian authorities, who accused kyiv of a “crime of war”.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said the Ukrainian military had fired a “Tushka-U” ballistic missile at a residential area of Donetsk, a large industrial city of more than 900,000 people.
“The use of this type of weapon against a city where there are no firing positions for the armed forces is a war crime,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, the AFP news agency reported.
The city is the capital of the province of the same name, with a Russian-speaking majority and bordering Russia, which in 2014 proclaimed itself a “republic” after holding a referendum on the independence of Ukraine in rejection of what it describes as the anti-Russian policy of the kyiv government.
For his part, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Army, Leonid Matiukin, rejected the accusations and pointed against Russia. “This is definitely a Russian missile or some other type of munition,” Matiukin told a news conference.
Earlier, the leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, which is recognized only by Russia, Denis Pushilin, assured that the attack had been launched while a group of people waited at a bus stop, the Russian news agency Sputnik reported.
“Tochka-U was carrying a cluster charge, prohibited, as we know,” Pushilin said, noting that the missile was shot down by Donetsk forces, and would otherwise have caused many more casualties.
In Telegram, the territorial defense of Donetsk, which in a previous balance had reported 20 dead, published photos in which several bloody bodies were seen lying on a street among rubble. A minibus with broken windows is also seen.
In 2015, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Minsk, Belarus, according to which the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk would enjoy a regime of self-election of authorities that would give them a certain political autonomy, but Ukraine never fulfilled its part and , according to Moscow, began a series of attacks on these two towns that over eight years left 14,000 dead, according to United Nations figures.
The current Russian military invasion of Ukraine, which this Monday entered its nineteenth day, originated in the denunciations that Russia had been making regarding the crimes in Donbass, fueled by the eventual incorporation of Ukraine into NATO.