Crimea official: Ukraine strikes with missiles oil drilling platforms in Black Sea

The head of pro-Russian forces in the Crimean Peninsula says Ukrainian government troops have struck oil drilling platforms in the Black Sea, amid Russia’s months-long military offensive in the former Soviet republic.

Sergei Askyonov said in a post on his Telegram account on Monday that the Ukrainian forces had launched missile attacks on drilling platforms of Chernomorneftegaz energy company in the Black Sea and off the coast of Crimea, which rejoined Russia in a 2014 referendum.

“This morning the enemy struck the drilling platforms of Chernomorneftegaz…I am in touch with colleagues from the Defense Ministry and the FSB. We are working to rescue people,” Aksyonov wrote in the post, referring to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

Aksyonov told state television that 109 workers had been on the oil rig platforms at the time of the attack and that 21 of them were evacuated, adding that search-and-rescue efforts were ongoing for the missing workers.

Mikhail Sheremet, a lawmaker in Russia’s lower-house State Duma, warned that Moscow would respond with “retaliatory strikes” on Ukrainian “decision-making centers” following the missile attack.

The strike is the first reported Ukrainian attack against offshore energy infrastructure in Crimea since the start of Moscow’s military offensive in late February.

Russian officials have expressed concern over Ukrainian military figures saying they would like to target Crimean infrastructure – such as the Kerch bridge linking Crimea to Russia – as part of a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south.

Russia accuses G20 members of politicizing health talks

Separately on Monday, Russia accused some members of the Group of 20 major economies of politicizing a meeting on global health after Moscow was criticized for the poor healthcare system in Ukraine following the February operation.

“We are asking our colleagues not to politicize G20 health platform and stay within our mandate and discuss healthcare,” Russian Health Ministry official Oleg Salagay told a G20 health ministers’ meeting in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta.

Representatives of the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada urged Russia at the meeting to end its protracted military operation in Ukraine.

Andrea Palm, deputy secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, said the Russia-Ukraine conflict was “directly at odds with the goals of G20 healthcare and our goal of promoting global health.”

“Far from promoting global health, Russia has disrupted health services, destroyed health facilities, and continue to strike buildings where innocent civilians including children are sheltering,” Palm claimed.

Russia has vehemently denied targeting civilians and medical facilities in Ukraine.

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