(Reuters) – A Russian war correspondent was killed and three wounded in Ukraine on Saturday in what the Defense Ministry said was a Ukrainian attack using cluster munitions, angering Moscow.
In a separate incident, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said one of its journalists, Yevgeny Shilko, was wounded elsewhere in Ukraine in a Russian cluster munition attack that killed a Ukrainian soldier. She said his life was not in danger.
Cluster bombs have come under the spotlight after Ukraine received supplies from the United States this month. Many countries ban it because it rains shrapnel over a wide area and can pose a danger to civilians. Some of the smaller bombs usually fail to explode immediately, but can explode years later.
Reuters could not independently verify that such weapons were used in either incident on Saturday. It was used by both sides in the course of Russia’s 17-month-old invasion of Ukraine.
The murdered Russian journalist was identified as Rostislav Zhuravlev, a war correspondent for the Russian News Agency. The Defense Ministry said the three colleagues were evacuated from the battlefield after coming under fire in the Zaporizhia region of southeastern Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced what she called “criminal terrorism” by Ukraine and said, without providing evidence, that the attack appeared to be deliberate.
“Those responsible for the brutal reprisal against a Russian journalist will inevitably suffer the punishment he deserves. And those who provided the cluster munitions under their protection in Kiev will share full responsibility,” she said.
It was not immediately possible to obtain comment from Ukraine on the incident.
Ukraine has vowed to use cluster munitions only to flush out 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 upper house of the Russian parliament, said the use of weapons was “inhuman” and the responsibility lay with both Ukraine and the United States. Leonid Slutsky, the party’s leader in the lower house, called it a “heinous crime”.
US-based Human Rights Watch said in May that Russian forces had used the weapons in attacks that caused hundreds of civilian casualties and damaged homes, hospitals and schools.
(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan, Caleb Davis and Olenna Harmash) Editing by Frances Kerry
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