A military vehicle on a street on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk, Ukraine
A military vehicle on a street on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk, Ukraine REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Russia on Monday claimed that Ukrainian forces had struck a residential neighborhood in the separatist region of Donetsk.

The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed in a statement that the attack was carried out using a tactical missile with a cluster munition warhead prohibited under international law and that it killed 20 people and seriously wounded 28 people, including children, women and seniors.

The statement also accused the Ukrainian government of “waging war on the civilians of the DPR and the LPR, as it has already been doing with its punitive operation in Donbass for the last eight years.”

“We are confident that this crime against humanity will not go unpunished,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Last month, before launching the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order recognizing the independence of pro-Russian separatist groups in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.

He later ordered his defense ministry to dispatch peacekeepers to Donetsk and Luhansk.

Last week, Russia alleged that the United States was housing biological weapons in Ukrainian territory.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the claims from Russia "false" and "preposterous" and warned they could serve as a pretext for the Russians to deploy chemical weapons in their assault on Ukraine.

On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insisted that no chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction were developed in his country.

In a Facebook post, Zelenskyy said, "I am the President of an adequate country, an adequate nation. And the father of two children."

He continued: "No chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction were developed on my land. The whole world knows that. You know that. And if Russia do something like that against us, it will get the most severe sanctions response."