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Civilians killed on Sevastopol beach were ‘occupiers’

There cannot be any “peaceful life” in Crimea, Vladimir Zelensky’s top aide Mikhail Podoliak has warned.

The four Russian civilians killed by a Ukrainian cluster munitions attack on a Crimean beach were “occupiers,” as are the residents of the region at large, and as such their deaths are justifiable, Mikhail Podoliak, declared on Monday. 


According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Ukrainian military fired five US-supplied ATACMS missiles at the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Sunday. Russian air defense systems destroyed four of the projectiles in mid-air, but the fifth was damaged, veered off course, and detonated its cluster warhead over a packed beach, killing five civilians and injuring more than 150. Three of those killed were children.


The Kremlin described the attack as an act of “terrorism,” and argued that the US bears equal responsibility for the deaths. “Cluster munitions in ATACMS missiles cannot be launched without the participation of American specialists and support from US intelligence,” Russia’s envoy to the US, Anatoly Antonov, stated. “It is no coincidence that enemy drones are circling over the Black Sea almost every day.”


In a post to his Telegram channel, Podoliak defended the Ukrainian attack. 


“There are not and cannot be any ‘beaches’, ‘tourist zones’ and other fictitious signs of ‘peaceful life’ in Crimea,” he wrote. “Crimea is definitely a foreign territory occupied by Russia, where hostilities are taking place, a full-scale war is ongoing.”


“Crimea is also a large military camp and warehouse, with hundreds of direct military targets, which the Russians cynically try to mask and cover with their own civilians,” he continued, adding that these civilians are considered “occupiers” by Kiev.


Crimea has been considered Russian land since imperial times, and was an autonomous republic within the Soviet Union when it was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR by Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev in 1954 for logistical reasons.


The peninsula remained in Ukrainian hands after the fall of the USSR, until its people voted overwhelmingly to join the Russian Federation in 2014. Prior to the 2014 referendum, the Kiev government rejected a number of similar plebiscites during the 1990s.


The US and NATO view Crimea as “illegally annexed” Ukrainian territory, and have demanded that Moscow return the region to Kiev’s control.


The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned US ambassador Lynne Tracy on Monday morning to answer for Washington’s role in the attack. According to a statement released by the ministry, Russian officials told Tracy that Sunday’s “bloody atrocity” will “not go unpunished.”


The US Embassy in Moscow has yet to comment. When asked for its take on the deadly Ukrainian strike, the Pentagon replied that “we have seen the reports and have nothing to say.”

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