Wednesday’s attack on the children’s and maternity hospital there killed three, including a 6-year-old, Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told the BBC Thursday morning. Officials said 17 people were injured. It was the third hospital destroyed in the city in the last five days, Orlov said on MNSBC.
NBC News has not verified the number of people killed.
Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing a “war crime” and “genocide” after the incident.
Britain’s Armed Forces minister, James Heappey, also said that whether hitting the hospital was “indiscriminate” fire into a built-up area or a deliberate targeting, “it is a war crime.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed those accusations and alleged that the hospital was a base for far-right radical fighters and that all mothers and pregnant women had been taken out of the building. Lavrov gave no evidence for the claims and video taken after the strike showed pregnant women being carried away on stretchers and women crying while holding children outside the building.
Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians.
In an impassioned speech posted on Telegram Wednesday night, the Ukrainian president again called on the West to enact a no-fly zone, something the U.S. and NATO have rejected, fearing it could escalate the conflict into a broader war on the continent.
Civilians have increasingly come under fire from Russian airstrikes, with hospitals, schools, residential buildings and vital infrastructure destroyed. More than 2 million people have fled for neighboring countries and countless others have been displaced inside Ukraine.
In the northeastern city of Sumy, where evacuations took place earlier this week and fresh efforts were planned for Thursday, the regional governor said Russian aircraft bombed residential neighborhoods and struck a gas pipeline.
Outside of Kyiv, a mileslong convoy of Russian military vehicles has made little progress in over a week and has suffered losses in attacks from Ukrainian forces, Britain’s defense ministry said in an update Thursday. It also reported a “notable decrease” in Russian air activity over Ukraine.
While Russian forces have surprisingly failed to gain air superiority, they have encircled and bombarded a number of areas.
“The enemy’s goal is to force Ukrainians to accuse the Ukrainian leadership of inaction by terrorizing the civilian population,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said, adding that Russia was using tactics similar to those it used in Syria.
Talks in Turkey
Amid the increasing devastation on the ground in Ukraine, the meeting between the countries’ top diplomats in Turkey — the highest-level talks between the two sides since the war began — appeared to produce few concrete results.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia appeared to “seek surrender from Ukraine, but this is not what they are going to get.”
He said that he and his Russian counterpart Lavrov failed to agree on a broad cease-fire to address civilian needs.
In a wide-ranging news conference, Lavrov gave no indication of a softening in the Kremlin’s position. He said that Russia “did not attack Ukraine,” and added that no one listened to Moscow’s complaints over many years that “the situation” in the country posed a direct threat.
Lavrov slammed the West’s supply of weapons to Ukraine, calling it a “colossal threat,” but he denied that Russia had plans to attack other countries.
“Those who are pumping Ukraine with weapons need to understand they have responsibility for their actions,” he said in a news conference after the talks.
With Russia’s offensive seemingly stalled in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance, U.S. officials said they were concerned that Moscow could be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine after the Russian Defense Ministry accused its neighbor of possibly planning a false-flag chemical weapon attack.
Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the ministry, said the point of the provocation was to blame Russia for the use of chemical weapons.
“To be clear: this is preposterous,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement, referring to Russia’s claims.
“We should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false-flag operation using them. It’s a clear pattern, and no one should fall for it,” she added.
While Moscow has warned against the West’s involvement in the conflict, crippling sanctions from the U.S. and its allies have left Russia increasingly isolated.
A growing list of global companies have halted operations in the country, with major Japanese firms including Uniqlo and Sony pulling out Thursday. Hilton also announced that it would close its corporate office in Moscow, while German fashion brand Hugo Boss said that it was temporarily closing its stores.
Moscow has blasted the Western sanctions and Lavrov said that Russia was working to ensure it “will never be in this position again so that no Uncle Sam can ever destroy our economy.”
In a fresh effort to pressure wealthy Russians, the U.K. hit a number of oligarchs with new sanctions.
They include Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Premier League soccer club Chelsea, as well as industrialist Oleg Deripaska and Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin.
The sanctions would block Abramovich’s efforts to sell the club but a special license would let it keep playing and paying salaries.
Moscow’s stock exchange was closed for the 10th consecutive day, meanwhile.