Russia denies targeting civilians in Ukraine after school and theatre hit

At the UN Security Council, Russia's Ambassador denied targeting Ukrainian civilians as Geraint Vincent reports on the tragic events and lives lost following recent shelling by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Russia has denied it is targeting civilians in Ukraine, despite attacks on a school and community centre in Merefa and the bombing of a theatre and maternity hospital in Mariupol which have left several people dead.

"This has been refuted many a time," Russian ambassador Vassiy Nebenzia said at the United Nations Security Council on Thursday.

Russian troops bombed a theatre in Mariupol on Wednesday, even though the word children was written in Russian in large letters outside the theatre.

Missiles also struck a maternity hospital in Mariupol, which left several people dead including a pregnant woman and a baby.

And 21 people died after a school and a community centre were struck by Russian missiles in the northeastern city of Merefa in Ukraine.

Yet Russia continues to denied Western claims it is targeting civilian areas.

Nebenzia told the council that Russia is not asking for a vote Friday on its resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, which has been sharply criticised by Western countries for making no mention of Russia's responsibility for the war against its smaller neighbour.

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Nebenzia said Russia decided at this stage not to seek a vote because of pressure from the United States and Albania on UN members to oppose it. But he stressed that Moscow is not withdrawing the resolution.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield responded to Nebenzia's announcement by saying Russia was attempting to use the council as "venue for its disinformation and for promoting its propaganda."

Also on Thusday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova supported the UN's Russian Ambassador and said that the accusations about how the Russian military had bombed a theatre in Mariupol were "a lie". Speaking in Moscow, she said: "Of course, the Kyiv regime immediately tried to lay the blame for everything that happened in Mariupol, in particular, for blowing up the drama theatre building, on the Russian military, who, in their opinion, allegedly dropped an aerial bomb on the theatre building. Of course, this is a lie," said Zakharova at the weekly news conference. She also denied attacks by Russian forces on March 6, which allegedly damaged the Albanian honorary consulate in Kharkiv, Ukraine.