A Russian war reporter was killed and three others were injured in Ukraine in what the defense ministry described as a cluster munitions attack, triggering indignation in Moscow.
In a second event, the German station Deutsche Welle reported that one of its journalists, Yevgeny Shilko, was injured elsewhere in Ukraine in a Russian cluster munitions attack that killed a Ukrainian soldier. It stated that his life was not in jeopardy.
Cluster bombs are in the spotlight after Ukraine received supplies of them from the United States this month. Many countries ban them because they rain shrapnel over a wide area and can pose a risk to civilians. Some bomblets typically fail to explode immediately, but can blow up years later.
Reuters could not independently verify the use of such weapons in either incident on Saturday. Both sides have used them in the course of Russia’s 17-month invasion of Ukraine.
The dead Russian journalist was named as Rostislav Zhuravlev, a war correspondent for state news agency RIA. His three colleagues were evacuated from the battlefield after coming under fire in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, the defence ministry said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced what she called “criminal terror” by Ukraine and said, without providing evidence, that the attack appeared deliberate.
“Those responsible for the brutal reprisal against a Russian journalist will inevitably suffer well-deserved punishment. The entire measure of responsibility will be shared by those who supplied cluster munitions to their Kyiv protégés,” she said.
No comment was immediately available from Ukraine on the incident.
Ukraine has pledged to use cluster munitions only to dislodge concentrations of enemy soldiers. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said this week that Ukrainian forces were using them appropriately and effectively against Russian formations.
Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy speaker of the Russian upper house of parliament, said the use of the weapons was “inhuman” and the responsibility lay both with Ukraine and the United States. Leonid Slutsky, a party leader in the lower house, called it a “monstrous crime”.
Their reactions ignored the fact that Russia’s own use of cluster bombs in the war has been documented by human rights groups and by the U.N.
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in May that Russian forces had used the weapons in attacks that had caused hundreds of civilian casualties and damaged homes, hospitals and schools.