Russian milbloggers have criticized the Russian Defense Ministry and Crimea’s occupation authorities for allowing Russian forces to deliberately place legitimate military targets near civilian areas in Crimea in an attempt to deter Ukrainian strikes, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports.

On Sunday, June 23, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Ukraine had launched five ATACMS missiles equipped with cluster warheads at Sevastopol, claiming to have intercepted four of the missiles. It claimed that a Russian air defense interceptor had caused one missile to deviate from its flight path and detonate.

ISW noted that the Russian Defense Ministry later blamed the United States for the civilian casualties in Sevastopol because ATACMS is a US-provided system, despite the fact that a Russian air defense system brought the missile down.

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Russian milbloggers also criticized the Russian authorities for not using air raid sirens to warn civilians to take cover.

According to Russian accounts the missiles contained cluster munitions that fell on civilians near the beach in Uchuivka Park in northern Sevastopol. Moscow, while continuing to encourage Russian holidaymakers to come to the temporarily occupied Crimean Peninsula which is still used for military purposes, has been criticized for failing to detect and destroy all incoming missiles before they reached Sevastopol, failing to warn people of the impending attack and for not building air raid shelters close to the beach.

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ISW analysts add that Russia is likely violating its own rules of international humanitarian law, which state “the military command shall avoid deploying military objectives in densely populated areas or in their vicinity.”

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