On Sunday, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed its missile strike on a Kharkiv hotel a day earlier targeted and killed members of Ukraine’s Chief Intelligence Directorate (GUR) and Armed Forces who were allegedly involved in planning an attack on Belgorod, Russia.
Russia’s ministry said in a Telegram post that the missile attack on the former Kharkiv Palace hotel complex “destroyed representatives of the GUR and Armed Forces of Ukraine who were directly involved in the planning and execution of the terrorist attack in Belgorod,” which Moscow claims killed civilians including children.
However, Ukraine firmly denied these claims. Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s GUR, called the statements “yet another delusional fantasy from the terrorist regime waging a genocidal war against Ukraine.”
In comments to the Ukraine Pravda media outlet, Yusov said no GUR personnel were harmed in the Kharkiv missile strikes. “As usual, the aggressor once again struck civilian rather than military facilities,” he said.
“All other imaginary ‘strikes’ against GUR representatives are just another pathological illusion from people living in a parallel reality and waging a genocidal war against Ukraine, for which they will surely be punished,” Yusov added.
The exchange comes after explosions rocked the Russian city of Belgorod near the border with Ukraine on Friday. Russia has blamed Ukraine and launched missile strikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, hitting the Kharkiv Palace hotel and an apartment building.
Ukrainian officials said the attacks wounded 26 people including children. The prosecutor’s office in Kharkiv said the strikes damaged the hotel, residential buildings, a kindergarten, shops and cars.
Later Russia’s Ministry of Defense admitted that destruction in Belgorod was caused by the work of Russia’s air defense.