Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed that all pregnant women had been taken out of a maternity hospital hit by an airstrike, as he accused the US of developing biological weapons in Ukraine.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Lavrov issued a fresh series of accusations about the war.
His latest remarks came after he held talks with Ukrainian foreign minister Dymtro Kuleba in Turkey this morning – the first of its kind since the start of Russia’s invasion.
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There has been international outcry following the attack on the maternity hospital in Mariupol which the city council said has left three people dead, including a child.
Image: Ukrainian emergency employees work at the side of the damage by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol
Asked about the attack, Mr Lavrov said: “As for the maternity ward, it is not the first time that we see the shouting in relation to so called atrocities of the Russian military.”
He claimed that hospital had been taken over by the Azov battalion – a volunteer group fighting alongside the Ukrainian army – “a long time ago” and that all pregnant women had been taken out of the building.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack a war crime and said children were among people “under the wreckage”.
The series of blasts that hit the complex left at least 17 people wounded and the victims evacuated included a heavily pregnant, bleeding woman on a stretcher.
Russia has denied it bombed the children’s hospital in Mariupol and said such claims were ‘fake news’.
Operation is ‘going on according to plan’
Mr Lavrov also claimed that the US has been building laboratories in Ukraine for the development of chemical weapons.
“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”, he said.
US Press secretary Jen Psaki called the claim “preposterous” and said it could be part of an attempt by Moscow to pre-emptively justify its own use of such weapons of mass destruction against Ukraine.
Also during the press conference, Mr Lavrov repeated his previous assertion that the military operation is “going on according to the plan”.
He also and hit out at the European Union for supplying weapons to Ukraine in “violation of all its principles and its values”.
Source : Sky News