KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – The mayor’s office in a key eastern Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists was hit by rockets Sunday morning, Russian state agencies said. There are currently no reports of casualties.
According to RIA Novosti, the municipal building in Donetsk was seriously damaged in the attack, which the local separatist authorities blamed on Ukraine.
Photos circulating on social media show plumes of smoke swirling around the building, rows of broken windows and a partially collapsed ceiling. RIA Novosti and local media also reported that three cars parked nearby burned down as a result of the strike.
Kyiv did not immediately claim responsibility or comment on the attack.
Kremlin-backed separatist authorities have previously accused Ukraine of numerous attacks on infrastructure and residential targets in the occupied territories, often using long-range US-supplied HIMARS missiles, without providing confirming information.
The strikes came a day after two men from the former Soviet republic opened fire on volunteer soldiers during a target practice at a Russian military training ground near Ukraine, killing 11 and wounding 15 before killing themselves. The Russian Ministry of Defense, which reported the killings, called the incident a terrorist attack.
The incidents came amid a hasty mobilization ordered by President Vladimir Putin to bolster Russian forces in Ukraine amid a series of battlefield setbacks following his February invasion. The call sparked protests and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Russia.
Also on Saturday, a Washington-based think tank belatedly accused Moscow of “massive, forced deportations of Ukrainians” that it said likely amounted to ethnic cleansing.
In its regular online update, the Institute for the Study of War cites statements this week by Russian authorities claiming that “several thousand” children from the Moscow-occupied southern region have been placed in holiday homes and children’s camps in Russia amid Ukraine’s counteroffensive. during. The initial statement of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Kusnulin was reported by the state agency RIA Novosti on Friday.
The institute also stated that Russian authorities “could further engage in a broader campaign of ethnic cleansing by depopulating Ukrainian territory through deportations and repopulating Ukrainian cities with imported Russian citizens,” in violation of international humanitarian law.
Russian authorities have previously openly admitted that they placed children from Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, who they said were orphans, for adoption by Russian families, a potential violation of a key international treaty on the prevention of genocide.
The 1948 Genocide Convention, which has been ratified by more than 140 states, including Ukraine and Russia, includes the “forcible transfer of children of a (target) group to another group” in its definition of genocide.
Elsewhere, the Ukrainian military on Sunday morning accused pro-Kremlin fighters of evicting civilians in occupied territories to house officers in their homes, an act it also described as a violation of international humanitarian law.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced in its regular Facebook update that the evictions are taking place in the Russian town of Rubizhne, in the eastern Lugansk region, where Kiev is conducting a counter-offensive. He provided no supporting evidence for his claim.
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