MARIUPOL (Ukraine) — On Wednesday, a Russian airstrike struck a maternity facility in Mariupol. This attack comes amid increasing warnings from the West about a possible invasion by Moscow. According to Ukrainian officials, the attack left at least 17 dead.
More than a mile away, the ground shaken when the Mariupol complex was struck by several blasts that blew out windows. One building’s front was ripped apart. As light snow fell on the mangled and burned cars and trees, soldiers and police rushed to the rescue.
Another woman wept as she held her child. A blast crater was visible in the courtyard. It reached at least two stories high.
Volodymir Nikulin (a top regional police officer) said that Russia had committed a major crime today. He was standing in the rubble. It is a war crime that has no justification.
President Volodymyr Zilenskyy stated that the strike had left children and other victims trapped under the rubble.
“A children’s hospital. A maternity hospital. “How did they threaten Russia Federation?” Zelenskyy asked in his evening video address, changing to Russian to express his shock at the airstrike. “What kind country is this, Russia, that is afraid hospitals, afraid maternity hospitals and then destroys them?”
He asked the West for more severe sanctions to ensure Russia no longer has “any chance to continue this genocide.”
Zelenskyy shared a video that showed cheerfully painted hallways, dotted with twisted metal.
Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, tweeted that “there are few things more depraved then targeting the vulnerable and defenseless.” He also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be held accountable for his “terrible crimes.”
According to the World Health Organization, 18 attacks on ambulances and health facilities have been confirmed since the fighting started. Ten people were killed. It wasn’t clear whether that number includes the attack on the maternity hospital.
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, condemned Russia’s “unconscionable acts” during a conversation with Dmytro Kuleba (Ukraine counterpart), that also covered diplomatic efforts to reverse the invasion, according to the State Department.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine is now two weeks old. While its military is suffering more than anticipated, Putin’s invasion force of over 150,000 troops still has significant firepower advantages as it takes down key cities.
American military officials have reported that there has been little movement on the ground, despite heavy shelling of populated areas. The only exception to Russian progress on Mykolaiv and Kharkiv in the last 24 hours. To assess the wider military situation, the officials spoke under anonymity.
Wednesday’s announcement by authorities was a new cease-fire. This will allow civilians to flee the bombed areas around Kyiv, as well as the cities in the south of Mariupol, Enerhodar, and Volnovakha, and the east of Sumy and Izyum.
Although it was unclear if anyone was able leave other cities immediately, people fled from Kyiv’s suburbs to seek refuge in the city.
The evacuees hoped to board trains for the western Ukrainian regions that were not under attack from there.
The Ukrainians demolished the concrete bridge leading to Kyiv days earlier to stop the Russian advance. This forced civilians to cross the slippery wooden planks to reach Irpin, a Kyiv suburb.
Firefighters dragged an old man to safety by wheelbarrow. A child held onto the arm of a soldier and a woman walked along with a fluffy cat in her arms. They passed a van that had been smashed and the words “Our Ukraine” written on its windows.
Yevhen Nyshchuk (a member of Ukraine’s territorial defense forces) stated that “we have a very limited window of time right now.” “Even if there’s a cease-fire, there is still a high chance of shells falling at any time.”
Previous attempts to create safe evacuation routesin the last few days failed largely due to what the Ukrainians claimed were Russian attacks. In a phone call with Germany’s chancellor Putin, Putin accused militant Ukrainian nationalists from preventing evacuations.
Local authorities in Mariupol, a strategically located city of 430,000 inhabitants, raced to bury the bodies of the two-weeks of fighting in a mass cemetery. As they moved bodies covered in bags or carpets over the edge, city workers dug a trench measuring 25 meters (yards).
According to Zelenskyy’s office, around 1,200 people died during the nine-day siege.
Since the invasion of Putin’s forces, thousands have been killed in Russia, soldiers and civilians alike. According to the U.N., more than 2,000,000 people fled the country since Putin’s invasion. This is the largest exodus of European refugees since World War II.
The fighting caused power outages at Chernobyl’s decommissioned nuclear plant. This raised concerns about the stored radioactive fuel, which must be kept cool. The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency stated that it did not see any “critical impact on safety” due to the loss of power.
As Moscow’s forces intensify their bombardment of cities to counter what appears to be stronger Ukrainian resistance than expected and greater Russian losses, the crisis will only get worse.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stated that Russia’s attack will become more brutal and more indiscriminate as Putin tries for momentum, echoing earlier remarks by the director of CIA.
The Defense Ministry of Britain stated that fighting continues northwest of Kyiv. Russian forces continued to surround Kharkiv and Sumy, Chernihiv and Mariupol, and were heavily shelling them.
According to the military of Ukraine, Russian forces have been placing military equipment on farms in northern Chernihiv. It said that in the south, Russians dressed in civilian clothing are moving on Mykolaiv which is a Black Sea shipbuilding centre of half a million people.
Authorities said that the Ukrainian military is strengthening its defenses in cities to the north, south, and west, while forces around Kyiv are “holding their line” against the Russian offensive.
Some of Ukraine’s volunteer fighters trained at a Kyiv park equipped with rocket-propelled bomb launchers on Wednesday.
Mykola Matulevskiy (64-year-old retired instructor in martial arts), said, “I only have one son.” He was speaking with Kostyantin. “Everything I own is my son.”
They will now fight together: “It is impossible to have it in any other way because it is our motherland.” Our motherland must be protected first.
Police officers and soldiers assisted elderly residents in Irpin, a small town of 60,000. One man was lifted from a damaged structure using a makeshift stretcher while another was carried toward Kyiv using a shopping cart. Residents fleeing the scene said that they were without water and power for four days.
Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the regional administration, said that the crisis facing civilians is getting worse in and around Kyiv. The situation is especially dire in the suburbs.
He stated that Russia is creating an artificial humanitarian crisis in Kyiv, hindering the evacuation of people, and continuing to bomb small communities.
Mariupol is facing worsening conditions. Attempts to evacuate residents and provide desperately needed water, food, and medicine were thwarted Tuesday by what the Ukrainians claimed was a continuation of Russian attacks.
To bury 70 people, the city used Wednesday’s lull in shelling to rush. While some were soldiers, most of them were civilians.
The work was done quickly and without ceremony. There were no mourners or families present to say goodbye.
One woman asked at the cemetery gates if her mother was being buried. She was.