MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Monday directly blamed the United States for an attack on Crimea with US-supplied ATACMS missiles that killed at least four people and injured 151, and Moscow formally warned the US ambassador that retaliation would follow.

The war in Ukraine has triggered the biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and Russian officials have said that the conflict is entering the most dangerous escalatory phase to date.

But directly blaming the United States for a deadly attack on Crimea — which Russia annexed in 2014 and now considers to be Russian territory although most of the world considers it to be part of Ukraine — is a step further. “You should ask my colleagues in Europe, and above all in Washington, the press secretaries, why their governments are killing Russian children. Just ask them this question,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters of the attack.

At least two children were killed in the attack on Sevastopol on Sunday, according to Russian officials. People were shown running from a beach near Sevastopol and some of the injured being carried off on sun loungers. Russia said that the United States had supplied the weapons, while US military specialists had aimed the weapons and provided data for them.

Neither Ukraine nor the United States has commented on the attack. Russia summoned US Ambassador Lynne Tracy to the foreign ministry where she faced accusations that Washington was “waging a hybrid war against Russia and has actually become a party to the conflict”. The attack, Russia told Tracy, would “not go unpunished. Retaliatory measures will definitely follow.”

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2024

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