Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy led the condemnation of Russia's strike on Kyiv’s primary television transmitter by the site of a Holocaust massacre on Tuesday, which killed at least five Ukrainians.
The Ukrainian capital’s iconic tower stands directly adjacent to the Babi Yar massacre site, where tens of thousands of Jews were killed by the Nazis and their local collaborators within a 48-hour period in 1941. The strike damaged a Jewish cemetery on the grounds.
"To the world: what is the point of saying 'never again' for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? At least 5 killed. History repeating…," Zelenskyy tweeted.
Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also criticized the "attack on the Jewish cemetery near the memorial site commemorating the Holocaust of the Jews of Kyiv and the murder of the Jewish people in Babi Yar. We call for preserving and respecting the sanctity of the site.”
Lapid added that he is in touch with the Ukrainian ambassador and that Israel will assist in repairing damage to the Jewish cemetery.
Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, also voiced its “vehement condemnation” of the attack, and called on the international community “to safeguard civilian lives as well as these historical sites because of their irreplaceable value for research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.”
Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center Chair Natan Sharansky also criticized the strike, saying that “Putin seeks to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent. It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kyiv by bombing the site of the Babyn Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacre."
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The attack threw several local stations off the air, according to Ukrainian media.
In recent years, the Ukrainian government and private philanthropists have been working to build a memorial complex at the ravine, which had previously been filled in and turned into a park.
Footage of the attack circulating online showed a plume of smoke rising into the air next to the distinctive red and white metal tower as sirens blared across the beleaguered city.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry said Russia was barbaric for attacking on Tuesday a TV tower near a memorial site that commemorates the victims of Babi Yar, one of the biggest single massacres of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust.
"Russian troops fired on the TV tower, near the Memorial complex #BabynYar," it said on Twitter. "Russian criminals do not stop at anything in their barbarism. Russia = barbarian."
Earlier on Tuesday, Russia’s defense ministry said that its forces would strike sites in Kyiv belonging to Ukraine's security service and a special operations unit, according to reports by the TASS and RIA news agencies.
The strikes aim to prevent “information attacks” on Russia, the ministry said, urging those near the sites to leave the areas.
The attack on a target adjacent to the former Soviet Union’s largest Holocaust sites came only days after Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in an address to the Russian people that the purpose of his invasion of Ukraine was to “protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime” and that Moscow sought to “demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.”
Ukrainian Jews have rejected the charge, while Ukrainian officials have in turn accused Russia of emulating Nazi Germany.
During a speech on Sunday, Zelenskyy urged the world to scrap Russia's voting power at the UN Security Council and said Russian actions verged on “genocide.”
“This is terror. They are going to bomb our Ukrainian cities even more, they are going to kill our children even more subtly. This is the evil that has come to our land and must be destroyed,” the former television comedian said in a short video message.
“Russia's criminal actions against Ukraine bear signs of genocide.”
Reuters contributed to this report.