Kremlin says, without stating evidence, that Ukrainian fire hit Kyiv children's hospital

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia denied on Tuesday that it had attacked a Kyiv children's hospital and said, without providing evidence, that Ukrainian anti-missile fire was to blame for Monday's strike.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated Moscow's insistence that it does not attack civilian targets in Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities say Russia struck the main children's hospital in Kyiv with a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile and rained missiles on other cities across Ukraine on Monday, killing at least 41 civilians in the deadliest wave of airstrikes for months.

The Ukrainian Security Service has said fragments of the rear part of a Kh-101, with a serial number, were recovered at the site, as well as part of the guidance system.

"The experts' conclusions are unequivocal – it was a direct strike," the Ukrainian State Security Service said on Telegram.

The head of the U.N. human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine said its analysis was that the strike was likely caused by a direct hit from a Russian missile.

Peskov, at his daily briefing, was asked how Russia could say it does not attack civilian targets after the tragedy at the hospital.

"I urge you to be guided by the statements of the Russian Ministry of Defence, which absolutely excludes that there were attacks on civilian targets and which states that we are talking about a falling anti-missile system," he said.

"We continue to insist that we do not attack civilian targets. Strikes are carried out against critical infrastructure facilities, against military targets that are in one way or another related to the military potential of the regime."

Many thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the course of the war since Russia launched what it called its "special military operation" in February 2022. A much smaller number of civilians have been killed inside Russia and in parts of Ukraine that Russia controls and has claimed as its own.

Footage of Monday's incident, verified by Reuters, showed a missile flying in a steep trajectory towards the hospital grounds at high speed, in what appeared to be a direct hit.

The Kh-101 that Ukraine says was used is a cruise missile which typically carries a 450 kg explosive warhead.

Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova rejected Kyiv's version and said - without stating evidence - that a NASAMS missile fired by Ukraine was to blame. She said this had been confirmed by "numerous witnesses", without identifying them.

Zakharova accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of seeking to exploit the tragedy for propaganda purposes.

(Reporting by ReutersEditing by Ros Russell)