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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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UKRAINE

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

A Ukrainian grain shipment arrived in Spain on Monday after being shipped via the Baltic Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade, imposed following the outbreak of war, a Spanish association said.

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

The Finnish-flagged cargo ship, the Alppila, carrying 18,000 tonnes of grain for animal feed docked at A Coruña port in northwestern Spain early on Monday, the Agafac food manufacturers association said.

It said it was the first time such a route had been used for Ukrainian grain.

Agafac, which had placed the order, said the grain had been transported by lorry to the northwestern Polish port of Swinoujscie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

It then called in at Brunsbuettel in northern Germany before heading for Spain.

This is “the first shipment of grain to be transported via a new sea route through the Baltic Sea to circumvent the Russian naval blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea that has been in place since the war began,” Agafac said.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Ukraine’s agriculture ministry was unable to confirm whether or not it was the first such shipment of Ukrainian grain to travel via the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have information about transportation specifically to Spain. We deliver to Romania, Poland. This is probably the logistics outside Ukraine,” he said.

When Russia invaded on February 24th, it imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that has choked off its grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped due to the blockade.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is currently exporting more than two million tonnes of grain a month via rail but that figure is far below what it was exporting before the war via its ports, notably Odessa.

The United Nations and certain countries like France and Turkey have been pushing for the opening of a “security corridor” in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian exports to resume.

At the end of May, General Christopher Cavoli, the incoming head of the US European Command, said Germany’s railway company recently set up a “Berlin train lift” — a special train service to move Ukraine’s grain exports.

He said Poland was working on a simplified border crossing regime to ease the deliveries, and once out of Poland, the grain was taken to Germany’s northern ports to be shipped onwards.

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