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UKRAINE

Spain’s PM accuses Russia of war crimes over children’s hospital strike

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

Spain's PM accuses Russia of war crimes over children's hospital strike
Handout by the National Police of Ukraine shows injured people leaving the bombed hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Wednesday’s airstrike hit a maternity and children’s hospital in the besieged southern port 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.”

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

Russia’s foreign ministry did not deny the attack but 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 February 24th.

And 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.

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SPANISH POLITICS

Spain’s PM sent booby-trapped letter as more explosives detected

Pedro Sánchez received a booby-trapped letter last week which was "similar" to one which exploded Wednesday at Ukraine's embassy in Madrid, whilst two other explosive packages have been sent to other key locations in Spain.

Spain's PM sent booby-trapped letter as more explosives detected

Security staff carried out a “controlled explosion” of the mailed item, whose “content was similar” to that found in other letters sent to the Ukrainian embassy, an air force base, the defence ministry and a military equipment firm.

The envelope, “containing pyrotechnic material” and addressed to Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, arrived by regular mail on November 24th, the interior ministry said in a statement.

On Wednesday the security officer at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid lightly injured his hand while opening a letter bomb addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador, prompting Kyiv to boost security at its embassies worldwide.

Spain’s High Court has opened a probe for a possible case of terrorism.

Later in the evening, a second “suspicious postal shipment” was intercepted at the headquarters of military equipment firm Instalaza in the northeastern city of Zaragoza, the interior ministry said.

Experts carried out a controlled explosion of that mailed item as well.

Instalaza makes the grenade launchers that Spain donates to Ukraine.

Earlier Thursday, security forces also detected a “suspect envelope” at an air base in Torrejón de Ardoz outside of Madrid which is regularly used to send weapons donated by Spain to Ukraine.

Police were called to the base “to secure the area and investigators are analysing this envelope” which was addressed to the base’s satellite centre, the interior ministry said.

“Both the characteristics of the envelopes and their content are similar in the four cases,” it said in a statement, adding police had informed the National Court of the four incidents.

A fifth envelope with “explosive” arrived at the defence ministry in Madrid on Thursday morning, a defence ministry source told AFP.

Experts blew up the package at the ministry, the source added.

‘Terrorist methods’

Ukraine’s ambassador to Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev, appeared to blame Russia for the letter bomb that arrived at the embassy.

“We are well aware of the terrorist methods of the aggressor country,” he said during an interview late Wednesday with Spanish public television.

“Russia’s methods and attacks require us to be ready for any kind of incident, provocation or attack,” he added.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered the strengthening of security at all Ukrainian embassies, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson said Wednesday after the letter bomb went off at the embassy in Madrid.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February in what it calls a “special military operation”, which Kyiv and the West describe as an unprovoked land grab.

In addition to sending arms to help Ukraine, Spain is training Ukrainian troops as part of a European Union programme.

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