International

Russia used misinformation ahead of maternity hospital shelling

This image taken from video provided by the Mariupol City Council shows the aftermath of Mariupol Hospital after an attack
Mariupol City Council via Associated Press
This image taken from video provided by the Mariupol City Council shows the aftermath of Mariupol Hospital after an attack.

A Ukrainian fact-checking and nonprofit group said Russia used misinformation ahead of the Wednesday bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol.

In an analysis, the Ukrainian Volunteer Journalists Initiative shared pictures and screenshots of video as evidence to counter Russia’s disinformation campaign denying responsibility for the killing of patients at the hospital.

The Mariupol maternity hospital bombing killed three, including one child, and injured 17. But Russia denied it killed patients and civilians at the hospital and claimed the building was occupied by Ukrainian armed forces.

The Ukrainian volunteer initiative said Russian media started spreading propaganda in late February and early March, when outlets, including pro-Russia media group Russia-24, announced the occupation of the hospital by Ukrainian forces to set up a firing station there.

An official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Maria Zakharova, made similar remarks at a United Nations Security Council meeting on March 3.

“In Mariupol, the Armed forces of Ukraine forced people out of the maternity hospital and set up a firing site in the building,” she claimed.

But photo evidence shared by the Ukrainian Volunteer Journalists Initiative counters Russian allegations that Ukrainian soldiers were posted at the building and that no patients were harmed. The group additionally says Russia used photos of a different building other than the hospital to stoke claims of Ukrainian occupation.

One Russian outlet stated that two companies of the 36th Marine Brigade were occupying the hospital, but evidence shows medical equipment, patients and damaged civilian vehicles — not military hardware or combat personnel.

“In the video with the destroyed hospital, you can’t see any signs of weapons or military equipment, but you can clearly see specialized medical equipment, personal belongings and the blood of patients,” the Ukrainian Volunteer Journalists Initiative writes.

Twitter removed posts from the Russian embassy, which tweeted similar misinformation.

The shelling of the hospital scarred Ukraine, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling the attack genocide. The bombing also led to Mariupol’s mayor pleading to close the skies over his country.

“Our will has not been broken, we will fight to the end. We have motivated soldiers and officers who defend our homeland,” Vadym Boichenko said. “But today we need support.”

Tags Mariupol Mariupol maternity hospital bombing Russian disinformation Ukraine
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