Russia’s Defense Ministry accused kyiv of spreading ‘cynical lies’ about its military campaign
Russia claimed on Wednesday that Ukrainian fighters were using a synagogue to secretly store arms and ammunition. kyiv has repeatedly accused Moscow of hitting civilian targets, while Russia says it only hits sites used by the military.
Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, accused Kyiv of trying to deceive the world with “cynical lies” on the Russian offensive.
He presented a series of images which he said showed evidence of “nationalists” using a synagogue in the city of Uman in central Ukraine, “for military purposes”. The city is an important place of pilgrimage for Hasidic Jews.
The spokesman added that the Ukrainians planned to use Jewish religious groups to pressure Russia if the synagogue in question was destroyed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned the bombing of the city by Russia in his speech to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on March 20. Tens of thousands of Jews gather in Uman to pay their respects at the grave of a local religious leader.
The images, according to Konashenkov, were dated March 21 and provided by “a member of the Jewish community of Uman.” They appear to be stills from CCTV video and show a group of men in fatigues gathering around a truck and two buses parked outside a building, which Konashenkov identified as a synagogue.
The truck is loaded with backpacks and things like rolled-up foam cushions. Two men cover them with a sheet and a pair of blankets. Men in military style clothes stand near a white bus with a warning sign on its windshield, which says “Children.”
Another set of images, allegedly taken from the same location, show men wearing helmets and body armor outside a red bus. Some carry large bags and at least two men carry what look like guns.
Konashenkov said the men belonged to “the two columns of nationalists who formed on the territory of the synagogue”.
Footage does not show any of the men entering or exiting the building. Konashenkov, however, asserted that “The weapons and ammunition, which were stored inside the synagogue, were first loaded by nationalists into trucks and then disguised as bags filled with construction waste.”
Ukraine has so far not commented on the allegations, but kyiv has repeatedly accused Russian troops of destroying civilian buildings, including apartment complexes, hospitals and schools. Police and city officials reported that several missiles landed in Uman last month, killing one person.
Moscow attacked the neighboring country in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to regularize the status of these regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake Donbass by force.