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Kremlin Defers to Russian Military on Deadly Mariupol Hospital Attack

A pregnant woman is carried from maternity hospital in Mariupol after it was hit by shelling on Wednesday. Evgeniy Maloletka

Russia’s military will likely provide details into the bombing of a children’s hospital in Ukraine that local authorities said had killed three people, including a young girl, the Kremlin said Thursday.

The Mariupol city council in southern Ukraine said Wednesday’s attack on the children’s and maternity hospital killed three people and injured 17. The United Nations, the White House, Britain and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy denounced the attack as “horrific,” “barbaric,” “depraved” and a “war crime.”

“The military will probably provide some information [on the Mariupol hospital attack]. I can’t say,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a daily briefing.

“We will definitely ask our military,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency.

“You and I don’t have clear information about what happened there.”

He spoke after Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Ukrainian “nationalist battalions” of moving out staff and patients and using the hospital to set up firing positions. Moscow has denied targeting civilians as its invasion of pro-Western Ukraine enters its third week.

Russia’s deputy chief of mission at the United Nations accused UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of spreading “fake news” about the attack.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed on Thursday that the hospital had been serving as a military base for nationalists.

"This maternity hospital has long been occupied by the Azov Battalion and other radicals. They drove out the women in labour, nurses and general staff. It was the base of the ultra-radical Azov Battalion," Lavrov said, following talks in Turkey with his Ukrainian counterpart.

Video shared by rescue workers from the site showed a scene of complete devastation, with the wounded being evacuated, some on stretchers, past charred and burning carcasses of cars and a deep crater by the building.

Inside, debris, shattered glass and splintered wood littered corridors, administrative offices and bedrooms, with mattresses thrown from their frames.

Mariupol city council said 1,200 residents have been killed over nine days of Russia’s siege of the city.

AFP contributed reporting.

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