Russian Airstrike Hits Maternity Hospital in Ukrainian City of Mariupol


KYIV, Ukraine—A Russian airstrike hit a maternity hospital in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, local authorities said, as Moscow’s invasion has shifted to a new, more destructive phase aimed at civilian targets.

Video footage released by the Mariupol mayor’s office showed wounded people being pulled out of the partially collapsed hospital complex. A wide, deep bomb crater was visible, with signs that the blast, which took place around 5 p.m. local time Wednesday, had knocked down trees and torched cars. Nobody was killed in the blast and 17 people were wounded, officials said.

Mariupol has faced more than a week of Russian shelling that has cut off water and power in the city of over 400,000, where remaining residents have been hunkering down in basements. More than 1,200 civilians have died in the assault, local authorities said.

The city’s deputy mayor said other, uncounted bodies couldn’t be recovered because of intense shelling, and that 47 were buried in a common grave on Wednesday.

“They want to kill as many civilians as possible,” said the deputy mayor, Serhiy Orlov, speaking by phone from outside the city. “They will not allow for evacuation. They deliberately target lines for water and food.”

The shelling of Mariupol and similar attacks on other cities across Ukraine that are within range of Russian forces indicated that Moscow, having failed to swiftly take control of the country after it launched its invasion two weeks ago, was advancing with increasing disregard for civilian casualties. Ukrainian forces, unable to match the Russians in manpower or weaponry, have shown a preference to falling back to urban areas, where fierce fighting is anticipated.

Ukrainian officials say a Russian airstrike hit a maternity hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol, as conditions have grown desperate for civilians unable to flee the country. Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press

It will be “an ugly next few weeks,” predicted U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director

William Burns,

in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

Several attempts to evacuate civilians failed in recent days as the Russian invading forces continued the shelling. On Wednesday, Ukrainian and Russian forces reported some progress in reaching a cease-fire in several cities, allowing some corridors to open. By Wednesday afternoon, cease-fire violations again marred efforts at two of the cities.

Officials in Sumy said they had managed to move about 5,000 residents out of the northern city overnight in the face of more shelling. One bomb killed 22 people, officials said.

Closer to Kyiv, Russia and Ukraine agreed to open evacuation routes at several suburbs that began to move civilians, mostly women and children, toward the capital. But by late afternoon renewed fighting had stopped the movement out of the besieged city of Bucha and an adjacent town, where 50 buses were stranded.

People searching through debris near houses destroyed by shelling in Sumy, Ukraine.



Photo:

ANDREY MOZGOVOY/REUTERS

A Ukrainian soldier saying goodbye at the main train terminal in Lviv, Ukraine.



Photo:

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Some escapees from Kyiv’s outskirts were directed toward the capital’s train station, where people were clamoring to board trains.

In Kyiv, the primary target of the Russian offensive, the streets are now mostly empty of residents, with just soldiers and some elderly left behind. A classical music concert in the city’s Independence Square to mark the birthday of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko was sparsely attended except for a scrum of foreign television journalists.

Overnight, Ukraine’s military reported renewed Russian offensives at all major targets, from Ukraine’s second-most-populous city, Kharkiv, near the Russian border, to Mariupol.

Russian forces inched forward in an effort to encircle Kyiv, reaching the outskirts of another suburban town west of the city, and bombing Ukrainian positions southwest, near some of the last open roads into the capital.

Areas seized as of Saturday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Primary refugee crossing locations

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Controlled by

separatists

Areas seized as of Saturday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Primary refugee crossing locations

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Controlled by

separatists

Areas seized as of Saturday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Primary refugee crossing locations

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Controlled by

separatists

Areas seized as of Saturday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Primary refugee crossing locations

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Areas seized as of Saturday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Primary refugee crossing locations

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday that a power cut caused by Russian attacks on Kyiv could deprive the Chernobyl nuclear site of power within 48 hours, leading to a potential meltdown of spent nuclear fuel. The United Nations atomic watchdog said it saw no critical impact on safety.

The number of people forced to escape Ukraine has passed two million, according to the United Nations refugee agency, as the civilian toll of the war mounted along with international efforts to press Russian President

Vladimir Putin

to halt the Russian offensive.

In the eastern city of Severodonetsk, officials said Wednesday that 10 people were killed and eight wounded in shelling the day before. Residents of the eastern city of Izyum said much of the downtown has been flattened by artillery strikes and fierce street fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces inside the city.

Among those killed in a bombardment in Sumy was a 16-year-old former Ukrainian champion of sambo wrestling, who died along with his parents, grandmother and two younger brothers, according to a Facebook post by his coach.

The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, agreed on a massive spending package for the current fiscal year that includes $13.6 billion in support for Ukraine.

Civilians fleeing Irpin, near Kyiv, Ukraine.



Photo:

THOMAS PETER/REUTERS

Members of the territorial defense forces training to operate an antitank launcher in Kyiv.



Photo:

VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS

On Tuesday, Poland said it would immediately give its fleet of Soviet-made MiG-29 jet fighters to the U.S. at Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany after days of public speculation over donating the planes to Ukraine and raising the possibility of wider U.S. commitment.

The Pentagon said it wasn’t clear that there was a “substantive rationale” for having Polish jets intended for Ukraine at an American air base, saying such a proposal raised concerns for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we don’t believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday warned that the use by Ukraine of airfields in other countries would be “a very undesirable and potentially dangerous scenario.”

Ukrainian Defense Minister

Oleksii Reznikov

on Wednesday called for people to be more circumspect in discussing arms supplies, at least domestically. “Please do not spread the word that certain countries provide weapons to our country. Refrain from commenting on this.”

The Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of an international conference in Antalya, Turkey, on Thursday.



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