The “despicable” bombing of a maternity hospital in Ukraine is a war crime committed by Russian troops, the UK’s armed forces minister has said.

James Heappey, an Army veteran said that, even if Russian troops did not deliberately target the medical complex, the attack – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described as “depraved” – still amounts to a war crime.

Three people, including a child, were killed in the attack, according to the besieged city’s council.

Mr Heappey told BBC Breakfast: “We ask ourselves the question how did this happen? Was it an indiscriminate use of artillery or missiles into a built-up area, or was a hospital explicitly targeted?

Bournemouth Echo: Fighting has been ongoing for over two weeks now (PA)Fighting has been ongoing for over two weeks now (PA)

“Both are equally despicable, both, as the Ukrainians have pointed out, would amount to a war crime.”

Pressed on whether he thinks the attack constitutes a war crime, he replied: “Yes, if you deliberately target a piece of civilian infrastructure like a hospital, yes.

“If you use indiscriminate artillery into an urban area without due regard for the reality, you could hit a protected site like a hospital, then that too, in my view, is.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strike in Mariupol was part of a “genocide” on his people.

Additionally, as the fighting entered the 15th day in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Russia had confirmed the use of thermobaric rockets – often called vacuum bombs – on its neighbour.