Russia does not target civilian buildings – Kremlin

11 months ago 20

Moscow has denied Kiev’s claims that it hit a cathedral in Odessa with an anti-ship missile

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has reiterated Russian denials that one of its missiles was responsible for the damage done to the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odessa over the weekend. The claims coming from Kiev are “absolutely not true”, he told journalists on Monday.

“Our armed forces never conduct strikes on objects of social infrastructure, even less so on temples, churches and similar objects,” he assured. The Russian Defense Ministry previously said a Ukrainian interceptor missile was likely to blame, an assertion that Peskov endorsed.

The cathedral was heavily damaged on Sunday morning amid a Russian missile attack on targets in several Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said later in the day that a Russian Kh-22 anti-ship missile had struck the church’s altar.

The Ukrainian leader alleged that Moscow was targeting “the people and the foundations of our pan-European culture” and pledged that the church would be rebuilt, with Italy potentially footing the bill.

The Russian Defense Ministry denied the Ukrainian charge, suggesting later on Sunday that the incompetence of the country’s air defense forces was the most probable cause of the damage.

Russia targets only military locations and takes care to select only those far from civilians and sites of cultural value, it said. Meanwhile Ukrainian military leaders “place air defense assets in residential areas on purpose.”

The practice was acknowledged earlier this month by a spokesman for the Ukrainian military, who claimed that it was necessary because the country doesn’t have enough longer-range air defense systems.

Kiev has previously accused Russia of damage done by its own troops. The most notable case happened last November, when Zelensky accused Moscow of killing two Polish farmers in a border region and urged NATO to retaliate. Warsaw swiftly acknowledged that the projectile was likely fired by the Ukrainian side.

Last week, Russia started a series of attacks on targets in Ukrainian ports, which the military described as retaliation for Kiev’s drone strike on the Crimean Bridge last Monday. The Sunday barrage was aimed at sites where “the Kiev regime and foreign specialists planned terrorist attacks against Russia,” the Defense Ministry said.

The Transfiguration Cathedral in Odessa was founded in 1794 and was one of the primary Christian places of worship in Imperial Russia. The Soviet government blew it up in 1936, after declaring that it had no historic value. The building was restored over a decade starting 1999 and re-concentrated in 2010.

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