Ukraine foreign minister says Russian officials ‘live in their own reality’

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba briefs media after a General Assembly meeting discussing the situation in Ukraine at the UN’s headquarters.

Lev Radin | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hit back at claims made Thursday by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, saying the leadership in Moscow “live in their own reality.”

Kuleba’s comments come after Russia’s foreign minister earlier denied that Russian forces had targeted civilians by bombing a children’s hospital and maternity ward on Wednesday, leading to the deaths of three people including a child, and wounding many others.

When asked by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble how Russia could justify such an act, Lavrov said that it was “not the first time we’ve seen shouting in response to so-called atrocities,” repeating a Russian line that the hospital had already been captured by Ukrainian “ultra radicals.”

The Russian foreign minister presented no evidence for this claim, nor did he elaborate on how he knew supposed details about the occupants of a hospital within a city that is being held by Ukrainian forces. Its Russian besiegers are attacking it from a distance with artillery.

Lavrov also said that pregnant women had been taken away from the hospital days ago, despite photographic evidence to the contrary showing pregnant women being carried from the hospital following the missile strike.

Kuleba said that Moscow appeared to believe its own claims about the hospital.

“Unfortunately, I can confirm that the Russian leadership, including Minister Lavrov, live in their own reality. In our talks, behind closed doors and in the absence of the media, he told me looking in my eyes that the pictures of pregnant women being taken from under the rubble of the maternity house are fake, that they hit the maternity house as a military target because the Russian military was absolutely sure that it was under the control of Ukrainian army, “he told CNBC.

Talks between Russia and Ukraine’s foreign ministers in Turkey earlier on Thursday ended in failure, with no progress made on establishing a cease-fire or safe passage for civilians trying to flee the besieged city of Mariupol. The discussions, between Lavrov and Kuleba, lasted just 1.5 hours.

Following the talks, Kuleba told a press conference that the talks had been “both easy and difficult.”

“Easy because Minister Lavrov basically followed his traditional narratives about Ukraine, but difficult because I did my best to find a diplomatic solution to the humanitarian tragedy unfolding on the battle ground and in the besieged cities,” he said.

No progress had been made on Ukraine’s proposal for a 24-hour ceasefire, Kuleba said, nor on the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to and from Mariupol, both for citizens to flee the city, and for humanitarian aid to enter it.

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