Ukraine claims attack on crowded beach that killed civilians was justifiable because they were “occupiers”
06/25/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

Ukraine claims that the Russian civilians it killed in Crimea with missiles with cluster munitions on Sunday, June 23, were "occupiers," implying that killing them was somehow justifiable as a result.

This is according to comments made by Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his office. In his comments, Podolyak defended the Ukrainian attack on the beach in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol on the Black Sea.

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

The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization consider Crimea to be "illegally annexed" Ukrainian territory. Meanwhile, Russia considers the Crimean Peninsula to be rightful Russian land it has held since the time of the tsars and the Russian Empire.

The Russian Defense Ministry reports that Kyiv fired five ATACMS missiles supplied by the U.S. at Sevastopol on Sunday. Although Russian air defense systems managed to destroy four of them mid-air, the fifth one sustained damage before veering off course and detonating a cluster warhead above a beach that was packed with beachgoers.

At least four civilians have died, two of whom were children, and more than 150 were injured. An elderly woman who had been swimming in the sea at the moment of impact was also among those killed. In footage of the attack shared on social media, panicked tourists could be seen fleeing the beach and running for cover.

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Podolyak added: “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 also said that Kyiv considers these civilians to be “occupiers”.

It’s the same type of rhetoric Israel has been using to defend the killing of Palestinians. When Podolyak said that Crimea is essentially a “big military camp” full of targets that Russian authorities are hiding behind civilians, it sounded a lot like what Israel has been saying Hamas is doing to justify the appalling number of civilians the Israeli military has killed in Gaza. (Related: Ukraine maintains "enemies" list of people to assassinate: Elon Musk, Laura Loomer, Scott Ritter and Donald Trump all named.)

Russia vows to hold the U.S. accountable for the attack

The Kremlin wasted no time in labeling the act “terrorism” and pointed out that as the supplier of the missiles, the U.S. also has blood on its hands.

Russian envoy to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov said: “Cluster munitions in ATACMS missiles cannot be launched without the participation of American specialists and support from U.S. intelligence. It is no coincidence that enemy drones are circling over the Black Sea almost every day.”

Sevastopol is regularly a target of Ukrainian fire, and it is believed that the unusually high death and injury toll is related to a lack of air raid alerts before the strike.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has already summoned U.S. ambassador Lynne Tracy to answer for the attack, telling her that the “bloody atrocity” would “not go unpunished.”

“There will definitely be response measures,” they stated.

In addition to supplying the weapons, Russia maintains that American specialists set the flight coordinates of the missiles based on information gathered by American spy satellites.

The Kremlin had previously stated that the U.S.’s recent decision to allow Ukraine to use American-supplied weapons for striking targets inside Russian territory would incur “consequences” and could lead to an escalation in fighting.

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