On Monday, Ukrainian ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova accused Russia of using a vacuum bomb in the northeastern Ukrainian town of Okhtyrka. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch further alleged that Russia has deployed banned cluster munitions, supposedly using them to target a preschool containing civilians.
Reports accusing Russia of using cluster and vacuum munitions in the conflict in Ukraine are “false,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.
“Russian troops do not carry out any strikes on civilian infrastructure or residential complexes. This is out of the question. We are talking only about the demilitarization of Ukraine, about military facilities,” Peskov said, speaking at a briefing Tuesday.
“It’s worth remembering that in a large number of cases which you’ve mentioned, we’re talking about attacks by the same nationalist units which use civilian objects as a human shield,” he added, answering a question on reports of attacks on non-military infrastructure and built-up areas.
The Russian military and the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s militias have reported multiple instances of Ukrainian volunteer battalions using Grad artillery against urban areas containing civilians as they retreat from their positions. Similar attacks have been reported on towns and cities in the Donbass republics. The Russian MoD has accused the Ukrainian Army and nationalist units of deploying artillery and mortar system in heavily built up areas. On Monday, the MoD accused Ukraine of using phosphorus munitions in areas around Kiev and near Gostomel Airport on a wide scale.
On Monday, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US accused Russia of using a vacuum bomb – a type of thermobaric weapon which takes in oxygen to create extremely powerful explosions, against Ukrainian forces at an army base in Okhtyrka. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she could not confirm the information, but said if the reports were “true, it would potentially be a war crime.” Separately, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused Russian forces of using cluster munitions, including to target a preschool containing civilians.
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu reiterated Tuesday that Russian troops were doing everything possible to preserve civilian lives, including by limiting attacks to military objects using precision weapons.