5th February 2023
Pedro Sánchez visiting a Ukraine refugee centre
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Pedro Sánchez accuses Russia of war crimes after children’s hospital attack

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez accused Russia of ‘war crimes’ on Thursday, a day after an attack on a children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Wednesday’s airstrike hit a maternity and children’s hospital in the besieged southern city, killing two adults and a child, city officials said, updating a previous figure of 17 people wounded.

‘We’re seeing how hospitals are being bombed. They are attacking civil society in an indiscriminate manner, therefore clearly violating human rights and more than likely committing war crimes,’ Sánchez said during a visit to a Ukrainian refugee centre near Madrid. ‘Such war crimes cannot go unpunished,’ he added.

The bombing, which practically destroyed the hospital, has triggered global outrage, with Ukraine denouncing the ‘barbaric’ attack as a ‘war crime’.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not deny the attack but claimed the maternity hospital was a base for ‘radicals’ and that no patients were in the building. He accused Ukrainian ‘nationalist battalions’ of using the hospital to set up firing positions after moving out staff and patients.

Even before the bombing, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague said last week he would look into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine since Moscow’s invasion on 24 February.

Earlier this week, Germany’s federal prosecutor opened a probe into suspected war crimes by Russian troops. Spain’s public prosecutor has also opened an inquiry into ‘serious violations of international humanitarian law’ by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Pedro Sánchez visiting a Ukraine refugee centre
Pedro Sánchez visiting a Ukrainian refugee centre in Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid on 10 March 2022. (Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

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