Russia-Ukraine War

Russia blames U.S. for Ukrainian strikes that kill at least 5 and injure dozens in Crimea

The Biden administration recently gave Ukraine permission to use American weapons to strike inside Russia.

a soldier prepares to fire a "Gvozdika"
Oleg Petrasiuk/Ukraine's 24th Mechanised Brigade via AP

Russia blamed Washington for a deadly strike on a strategic port in occupied Crimea on Sunday, claiming U.S.-supplied missiles were used in the attack. The strike left at least five people dead and dozens injured in one of the biggest attacks on the Russian-annexed peninsula in recent months.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said four U.S.-provided Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rockets, were intercepted over the city of Sevastopol, but fragments from the fifth rocket led to “numerous casualties among civilians” on the ground.

“All flight missions for the American ATACMS operational-tactical missiles are entered by American specialists based on U.S.’ own satellite reconnaissance data,” the ministry said in a statement. “Therefore, responsibility for the deliberate missile attack on civilians in Sevastopol lies primarily with Washington, which supplied these weapons to Ukraine, as well as the Kyiv regime, from whose territory this attack was launched.”

NBC News could not independently confirm what type of weapons were used in the attack. The U.S. has been providing Ukraine with military aid to defend against Russia’s invasion, which started in February 2022. The Biden administration recently gave Ukraine permission to use American weapons to strike inside Russia, two American officials told NBC News.

The White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and considers it part of Russia, though it remains internationally recognized as Ukrainian territory.

“Such actions will not go unanswered,” the ministry added.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the city’s Moscow-installed governor, said three children were among the dead and more than 120 were injured, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Razvozhayev declared Monday a day of mourning in the city and said he has been visiting the injured in the hospitals. Russian President Vladimir Putin called him immediately after the attack and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, Razvozhayev added.

The governor accused Kyiv authorities of striking “on the sly” at a time when many residents were returning from church and the celebrations of the Orthodox holiday of Holy Trinity or were on the beach with their children.

His deputy Alexander Kulagin also told Tass that many among the injured were at the beach during the attack.

serviceman prepares to fire a "Gvozdika"
Oleg Petrasiuk/Ukraine's 24th Mechanised Brigade via AP
In this photo provided by Ukraine's 24th Mechanised Brigade press service, a serviceman prepares to fire a "Gvozdika" 120mm Soviet-made howitzer towards Russian positions at outskirts of Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Saturday, June 22, 2024.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said doctors were being sent from the capital to provide all necessary assistance, and Moscow clinics were ready to receive victims.

There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv. The country’s ministry of defense, ministry of foreign affairs and military officials did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called the attack “an act of terrorism” carried out with U.S. weapons that should be condemned by the United Nations. Moscow-appointed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said the incident was “a barbaric, unscrupulous terrorist attack.”

Russian authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the attack.

Also on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities reciprocated with accusations of terrorism against civilians, reporting the latest deadly Russian strike on the border city of Kharkiv.

Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said Russia continued to attack civilian infrastructure in the city with aerial bombs. The strikes on Sunday killed one person and injured 11, Syniehubov said, adding that the latest attack left part of Kharkiv without power, shutting down the metro in the country’s second largest city.

It comes just a day after three people were killed and 41 were injured in another attack on Kharkiv that damaged a five-story residential building, according to Syniehubov.

Abigail Williams contributed.

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