Ukraine said the Russian rockets smashed into a hospital in Vilniansk and destroyed the maternity ward
Kyiv (Ukraine) (AFP) - Russian strikes killed a newborn baby at a maternity ward in southern Ukraine and targeted energy infrastructure in the capital Kyiv on Wednesday, the latest in a series of systematic attacks that has caused nationwide blackouts.
The European Parliament meanwhile recognised Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism” over its nine-month invasion of Ukraine and urged the 27-nation EU to follow suit.
Ukrainian emergency services said the Russian rockets smashed into a hospital in Vilniansk, a town in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, that houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant under Russian control.
President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the strikes as Russian “terror and murder”.
Emergency service workers were shown in official footage wearing protective helmets with head lamps attached trying to dig out a man trapped waist-deep from rubble.
“The two-storey building of the maternity ward was destroyed,” the emergency services said in a statement, adding that there was a woman, baby and doctor in the building at the time of the attack.
“The baby… died. The woman and doctor were rescued from the rubble,” they added. Nobody else was trapped under the debris.
“Grief fills our hearts,” said Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Zaporizhzhia region.
WHO says it has recorded more than 700 attacks on Ukraine's health facilities since Russia's invasion began
The strikes are only the latest to hit Ukrainian medical facilities since Russia invaded on February 24.
The World Health Organisation has warned that recent systematic attacks on the energy grid are causing severe disruptions at Ukrainian hospitals.
An infamous attack last March on a hospital in the war-battered coastal city of Mariupol left at least three dead in an attack widely condemned by Ukraine and its allies and that Moscow insisted was “staged”.
Russian strikes were also targeting the Ukrainian capital Kyiv Wednesday, with the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko saying important infrastructure had been hit.
“The enemy is launching missile strikes on critical infrastructure in Kyiv city. Stay in shelters until the air alert ends,” Kyiv city administration said on social media.
The western city of Lviv was also left without power after being targeted by strikes, the mayor said.
- ‘Terror and murder’ -
In the eastern region of Kharkiv, Russian strikes on a residential building and a clinic left two people dead, the governor said.
“Kupiansk was shelled. A nine-storey residential building and a clinic were damaged. Unfortunately, two people died: a 55-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man,” the official, Oleg Synegubov, said.
“The enemy has once again decided to try to achieve with terror and murder what it wasn’t able to achieve for nine months and won’t be able to achieve,” Zelensky said on social media following the attacks.
After a strike killed a newborn, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of 'terror and murder'
The World Health Organisation said this week it had recorded more than 700 attacks on Ukraine’s health facilities since Russia’s invasion began.
“Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health care facilities are no longer fully operational,” Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the United Nations’ health body, told reporters.
Russia has systematically targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, causing severe damage ahead of winter, which Kluge said “is already having knock-out effects on the health system and on the people’s health”.
Vilniansk, where the maternity hospital is located, is around 45 kilometres from the front line and last week was targeted in Russian strikes that killed 10 people.
It is located in the Zaporizhzhia region, which Moscow claimed to have annexed despite not having full control of the territory.
- ‘Acts of terror’ -
The move by the European legislators to recognise Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism” is a symbolic political step with no legal consequences.
Ukraine's security service said Tuesday it had conducted raids at locations including the 11th century Pechersk Lavra monastery in the capital Kyiv
Kyiv has for months called on the international community to declare Russia a “terrorist state,” and the Strasbourg parliament’s decision will likely anger Moscow.
“The deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amount to acts of terror,” a resolution approved by EU lawmakers said.
Ukraine praised the decision.
“Russia must be isolated at all levels and held accountable in order to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe,” Zelensky said.
Separately, Ukraine’s security service announced that it had seized “pro-Russian literature” and cash and interrogated dozens during raids of several Orthodox monasteries that spurred a backlash from the Kremlin.
The raided locations included the 11th century Pechersk Lavra monastery in Kyiv, a UNESCO Heritage site.
The SBU said it had probed 850 people including Russian and Ukrainian citizens and that “more than 50 underwent in-depth counterintelligence interviews”.
“Some of them presented passports and Soviet-era military IDs or did not have original documents at all, but only copies of them, or had Ukrainian passports with indications of forgery or damage,” the SBU said.