Russia condemns ‘barbaric’ shelling of Donetsk
Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has lashed out at Kiev after authorities in Donetsk reported that indiscriminate strikes on the city by Ukrainian forces had left five civilians dead and almost 40 injured on Monday.
“We’re seeing absolutely barbaric shelling of civilian facilities. They’re barbaric. In recent days, we’ve witnessed these shellings intensifying,” Peskov pointed out on Tuesday.
The previous day, the People’s Republic of Donetsk (DPR) said its capital had suffered the worst shelling since 2015, with strikes hitting a busy market and a maternity hospital. The development prompted DPR head Denis Pushilin to seek extra military assistance from Russia in a bid to stop the strikes on civilians.
The deputy commander and press secretary of the republic’s militia, Eduard Basurin, later clarified that Pushilin was hoping that Moscow could deploy its ground- and air-launched missiles to “help destroy the Western weapons” that were allegedly used by Kiev in the shelling.
When asked whether such assistance would be provided, Peskov responded by saying “it’s the prerogative of the [Russian] Defense Ministry as it’s related to the special military operation” in Ukraine.
However, he noted that President Vladimir Putin had made it clear that “the main and principal goal of the special military operation is ensuring the safety and protection of the people in Lugansk and Donetsk.”
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.