Fifty-six elderly residents of a care home in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kreminna were killed when a Russian tank opened fire on a care home, according to the head of the Luhansk region.
Serhii Haidai said the attack happened nine days ago, on March 11, and that fifteen other residents of the care home had been abducted and taken to the town of Svatove in what is now Russian-occupied territory.
Haidai first reported the attack in a video statement posted to Twitter on March 12 but said at the time he had no information on casualties, indicating Ukrainian emergency services and officials had come under fire when they tried to gain access the area.
“[Russian forces] opened fire on a nursing home for elderly people with a tank. There were only elderly people living there, many of them with disabilities. We have no idea how many people have died and how many survived. When we tried to reach the scene, they started shelling us,” he said on March 12.
In his statement posted Sunday on Telegram, Haidai said it had still not been possible to reach the scene of the attack.
Kreminna lies immediately to the west of the towns of Rubizhne and Severodonetsk, two towns that have seen some of the most intense fighting in the eastern part of the country.
CNN has been unable to independently verify the claim.
President Zelensky was asked about Vladimir Putin’s claims that the Ukrainian government is full of neo-Nazis. He said that he cannot take these statements by Putin “seriously” and called it “laughable.”
Zelensky added that Putin is in an information bubble but he noted that remarks like this from the Russian president worry him about what he is capable of.
“I’m not afraid of anything except for people, but the fact — the fact is that if he is serious about this statement he might be capable of very horrendous steps because that would mean that this is not a game for him. If he really believes in this, if it’s not a game, then we will just continue fighting against it. If it’s a game. But if it’s not a game, if he’s serious about it, if he thinks that this is his mission to conquer our territory and if he sees signs of neo-Nazis in our country, then many questions emerge about what else he is capable of doing for the sake of his ambitions, for the sake of his mission.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that if his country had been admitted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance earlier, then Russia would not have invaded the country.
“If we were a NATO member, a war wouldn’t have started. I’d like to receive security guarantees for my country, for my people,” Zelensky told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on “GPS,” adding that he was grateful for the aid NATO has provided since the invasion began. “If NATO members are ready to see us in the alliance, then do it immediately because people are dying on a daily basis.”
He continued, “But if you are not ready to preserve the lives of our people, if you just want to see us straddle two worlds, if you want to see us in this dubious position where we don’t understand whether you can accept us or not — you cannot place us in this situation, you cannot force us to be in this limbo.”
“I requested them personally to say directly that we are going to accept you into NATO in a year or two or five, just say it directly and clearly, or just say no,” Zelensky said. “And the response was very clear, you’re not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open,” he said.