Ukrainian school rejects Russia’s claims of killing soldiers | lifestyle

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AP) — Officials at a vocational school in a town in eastern Ukraine have rejected Russian claims that a missile attack killed hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers there, saying the missile only blew out windows and damaged classrooms.

Russia specifically identified a vocational school in Kramatorsk as the target of the attack in the nearly 11-month war. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its missiles hit two temporary bases housing 1,300 Ukrainian troops in the city, killing 600 of them, late on Saturday.

Associated Press reporters who visited the crime scene in sunny weather Monday saw a four-story concrete building with most of its windows broken. Inside, locals were cleaning up the debris, sweeping up broken glass and throwing broken furniture into the rocket crater below.

The detached, six-story school building was largely undamaged. There were no signs of the presence of the Ukrainian army and no casualties.

Yana Pristupa, the school’s deputy director, scoffed at Moscow’s claims of intervention in the troop concentration.

“No one saw a single spot of blood anywhere,” she told the AP. “Everyone saw yesterday that no one brought out any bodies. It’s just people cleaning up.”

She said the school had more than 300 students before the start of the war last February, most of them studying mechanical engineering, with most lessons moved online when Russia invaded.

The students “are in shock now,” she said, adding, “What a great facility it was.”

Ukrainian officials on Sunday quickly denied Russian claims that they had lost a large number of soldiers in the attack.

Despite the absence of any evidence, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said reports from the scene had not shaken senior officials’ confidence in the defense authorities.

“The Ministry of Defense is the main, legitimate and comprehensive source of information on the course of the special military operation,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters on Monday, using the Kremlin’s term for war.

Both sides regularly claimed to have killed hundreds of soldiers in each other’s attacks. Claims can rarely be independently verified because of the struggles.

However, Moscow’s accusations may have backfired domestically as some Russian military bloggers criticized them.

The think tank Institute for the Study of War said the bloggers “responded negatively to Russia’s (Defense Ministry) claims, pointing out that the Russian Defense Ministry often makes fraudulent claims and criticizing the Russian military leadership for making up the story… instead of holding the Russian leadership responsible for the losses.”

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said the strikes on Kramatorsk were in retaliation for a Ukrainian attack in Makiivka on New Year’s Eve that Moscow said killed at least 89 Russian soldiers holed up in makeshift barracks. Ukrainian authorities said hundreds were killed.

It was one of the deadliest attacks on Kremlin forces since the war began more than 10 months ago and was a shameful loss.

Such retaliatory strikes have occurred before. When Ukraine struck a bridge linking the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula with Russia in early October, damaging a vital supply artery for the Kremlin’s faltering war effort in southern Ukraine and striking a key symbol of Russian power in the region, the Kremlin launched the first massive barrage against Ukrainian energy facilities. It was billed as retaliation for the attack on the bridge and heralded a period of relentless bombing of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

At least three civilians were killed and 12 others wounded in the previous 24 hours when nine Ukrainian regions in the country’s southeast were shelled, Ukraine’s presidential office said on Monday.

In one attack on Monday, two people were killed and five others, including a 13-year-old girl, were injured by a Russian missile strike that hit a village market in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials said.

Kharkov regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said the strike hit the village of Shevchenkove. Photos on his Telegram channel showed destroyed pavilions, some of them still burning, and debris around them.

According to Ukrainian officials, more people could be trapped under the rubble. A rescue operation was underway to find them.

Russia says it is fighting NATO forces, not just Ukrainians.

Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, reiterated this argument in an interview published on Monday, saying that “the events in Ukraine are not a clash between Moscow and Kiev, it is a military confrontation between NATO, and especially the US and Britain. with Russia.”

“The sooner the citizens of Ukraine realize that the West is fighting against Russia with their own hands, the more lives will be saved,” said Patrushev in an interview for Argumenty i Fakty.

Meanwhile, two British citizens working as volunteers in eastern Ukraine have disappeared, Ukraine’s national police said on Monday.

Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Perry left Kramatorsk on Friday for the town of Soledar, where heavy fighting is reported, and contact with them was lost, police said.

Bagshaw, a New Zealand resident, was in Ukraine to help deliver humanitarian aid, according to New Zealand media reports.

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