Russia says Ukrainian fighters have used a monastery as a cover
Combatants from the Ukrainian Aidar Battalion have been firing weapons from the Svyato-Uspensky Nikolo-Vasilievsky Monastery in the village of Nikolskoye, in the People’s Republic of Donetsk, and “holding around 300 locals and monks hostage,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Sunday.
The ministry added that Russian troops then moved in and killed a number of the “nationalists,” while others fled. “The hostages were not hurt and the monastery was not damaged,” the statement read. It provided no evidence for its claims, and RT was unable to independently verify them.
Kiev has previously accused the Russians of shelling churches and other civilian buildings, including high-rise residential complexes. Moscow, meanwhile, insists its forces are targeting only military sites, such as airfields, air defense units, and radar stations. The Russian Ministry of Defense has also repeatedly accused Ukrainian “nationalists” of using civilians as a human shield.
Russia attacked its neighbor on February 24, arguing that it was defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke away from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. Moscow also said it wanted to force Ukraine into declaring itself a neutral country that would never join NATO.
Ukraine said the attack was entirely unjustified and denied claims it was planning to retake the rebellious republics by force.