Russia blames US for deadly Crimea strike

Washington bears responsibility for the latest Ukrainian missile strike on the city of Sevastopol in Crimea, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced in a statement. The attack, involving US-supplied ATACMS missiles, killed at least four people, including two children, and left more than 150 injured, according to authorities.

The Ukrainian military launched five ATACMS long-range missiles armed with highly controversial cluster warheads at the Crimean Peninsula earlier on Sunday, the ministry announced.

Four were destroyed by Russian air defenses. One missile was hit but veered off course and detonated over the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol. Falling fragments of its cluster munition warhead led to numerous civilian casualties.

“All the flight tasks for the… ATACMS missiles are assigned by American specialists on the basis of their own US satellite intelligence data,” the Defense Ministry said.

“Therefore, responsibility for the deliberate missile strike on civilians in Sevastopol lies primarily with Washington, which supplied these weapons to Ukraine, as well as the Kiev regime, from whose territory this attack was launched.”

The Russian military added that these actions will not be “left unanswered”.

In July 2023, the US announced that it would provide Ukraine with cluster munitions. The move sparked outrage in Moscow. These weapons scatter dozens of smaller bombs when detonated. The bomblets, usually spread over large areas, can remain unexploded for years and even decades, posing particularly high risks to densely populated areas.

The weapons are banned in more than 100 countries, including the UK, France, and Germany. However, neither the US, Ukraine, nor Russia signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Nevertheless, Moscow vowed not to use them in the conflict against Kiev in 2023.

Ukraine has previously targeted Crimea with US-made ATACMS missiles. In late May, ten ATACMS were shot down as they were targeting the strategic Crimean Bridge, Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov said at the time.

US media outlets reported that month that Washington had given the green light for the use of US-supplied weapons in Ukraine’s cross-border attacks into Russian territory from the northeastern Kharkov Region. Later, the Pentagon said Kiev could do so beyond Kharkov Region as well.

AP reported, citing sources, that the administration of US President Joe Biden still does not allow Ukraine to use ATACMS missiles with a range of up to 300km to strike deep inside Russia. President Vladimir Putin warned that the use of Western weapons in Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory is “close to aggression.”

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