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  • 22 Jul, 2024

Moscow accuses Washington of deadly attack on Crimea

Moscow accuses Washington of deadly attack on Crimea

The Russian Defense Ministry said targets for Ukrainian ATACMS missiles would be selected based on US satellite data.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that the United States was responsible for the recent Ukrainian missile attack on the Russian city of Sevastopol in Crimea. Officials said the attack, which was carried out by a U.S. ATACMS missile, killed at least four people, including two children, and injured more than 120 others.

The Ukrainian military fired five long-range ATACMS  missiles carrying highly controversial cluster warheads toward Crimea on Sunday, the ministry said. Four of the missiles were destroyed by Russian air defenses. The missiles hit their target but went off course and exploded over the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol. Fragments from the cluster munitions' warheads fell, killing a large number of civilians, including nearly 30 children.

 ...All flight missions of ATACMS missiles are assigned by US experts based on unique US satellite reconnaissance data," the Pentagon said. "Therefore, the responsibility for the targeted missile attack on civilians in Sevastopol lies primarily with Washington, which supplied these weapons to Ukraine, and with the Kiev regime on whose territory this attack was launched."

The Russian military added that these actions "will not go unanswered."

In July 2023, the United States announced that it would supply Ukraine with cluster munitions. The move caused outrage in Moscow. These weapons scatter dozens of small bombs when they explode. The submunitions typically spread over a wide area and can remain unexploded for years or even decades, posing a particular threat to  populated areas.

The weapons are banned in more than 100 countries, including the UK, France and Germany. But neither the US, Ukraine nor Russia have signed the treaty on cluster munitions. Moscow has nevertheless vowed not to use them in a 2023 conflict with Kiev.

Ukraine has previously attacked Crimea with US ATACMS missiles. Ten ATACMS were shot down in late May, targeting a strategically important Crimean bridge, Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov said at the time.

U.S. media  reported this month that Washington had given the green light to use U.S. weapons in Ukrainian cross-border attacks on Russian territory from northeast of Kharkiv. The Pentagon later said Kiev could do this beyond the Kharkiv region.

The Associated Press reported, citing officials, that U.S. President Joe Biden's administration still has not authorized Ukraine to use ATACMS missiles, with a maximum range of 300 kilometers, to strike deep into Russia. President Vladimir Putin has warned that the use of Western weapons in Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory is "close to aggression."