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Shells hit theater housing civilians, Biden calls Putin a war criminal


KYIV/LVIV, Ukraine — International outrage over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grew on Thursday as U.S. and Ukrainian officials said civilians queuing for bread and taking shelter in a theater had been killed by Russian forces.

US President Joe Biden called Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal in comments the Kremlin called ‘unforgivable’ as he insisted the war in Ukraine ‘was going to be planned’ amid talks on compromise in the peace talks.

Moscow has yet to capture any of Ukraine’s biggest cities despite the biggest assault on a European state since World War II. More than 3 million Ukrainians have fled and thousands have died as the war enters its fourth week.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Russian forces dropped a powerful bomb on a theater in the besieged port city of Mariupol, leaving many civilians trapped and an unknown number of casualties. Reuters could not independently verify the information.

Maxar Technologies, a private US company, distributed satellite images it said were collected on March 14 and showed the word “children” in large Russian letters painted on the ground outside the red-roofed building.


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The theater housed at least 500 civilians, according to Human Rights Watch.

“This raises serious concerns about the intended target in a city where civilians have already been under siege for days and where telecommunications, electricity, water and heating have been almost completely cut off,” said Belkis Wille of the advocacy group.

This photo released by the Donetsk Regional Civil-Military Administration Council on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 shows the drama theatre, damaged after a shelling, in Mariupol, Ukraine.
PA

Moscow denies targeting civilians and the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces did not hit the building, the RIA news agency said.

Thirteen buses carrying around 300 refugees from Mariupol have arrived in Russia’s Rostov region, Russian news agency Interfax said on Thursday, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

Shells hit theater housing civilians, Biden calls Putin a war criminal
The current situation on the ground in Ukraine.
New York Post Illustrations

The US Embassy in Kyiv said Russian forces shot and killed 10 people queuing for bread in Chernihiv, northeast of Kyiv. Russia denied the attack and said the incident was a hoax.

The United Nations’ highest court for state-to-state disputes on Wednesday ordered Russia to immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine, saying it was “deeply concerned” by Moscow’s use of force.

Shells hit theater housing civilians, Biden calls Putin a war criminal
A policeman shows the covered bodies of children killed by shelling at the Number 3 Hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine.
PA

‘NEUTRAL STATUS’

Ukraine’s armed forces are carrying out small-scale counterattacks on several fronts and Russian troops have been unable to gain ground due to lack of means, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Wednesday.

There were signs of compromise and progress in the ongoing talks between Russia and Ukraine.

The Kremlin said negotiators were discussing a status for Ukraine similar to that of Austria or Sweden, two European Union members that are not part of the NATO military alliance.

“Neutral status is now being seriously discussed with, of course, security guarantees,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “There are absolutely specific formulations that I believe are close to agreement.”

Shells hit theater housing civilians, Biden calls Putin a war criminal
Family members and comrades mourn the death of Eduard Niezhenets, who was killed in a rocket attack on a military base in Yavoriv during the ongoing Russian invasion.
Reuters

Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s chief negotiator, said on state television: “Ukraine offers an Austrian or Swedish version of a demilitarized neutral state, but at the same time a state with its own army and its own Marine.”

Austria and Sweden, the largest of the six EU members outside NATO, both have small armies that cooperate with the alliance.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine may agree to international security guarantees that fall short of its long-standing goal of joining NATO. This prospect has been one of Russia’s main concerns.

“My priorities during the negotiations are absolutely clear: the end of the war, guarantees of security, sovereignty, the restoration of territorial integrity, real guarantees for our country, real protection for our country,” Zelensky said. in a video address released early Thursday. .

Shells hit theater housing civilians, Biden calls Putin a war criminal
A volunteer from the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces helps a woman cross the street in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
PA

In a speech to the US Congress via video link on Wednesday, Zelensky repeated a demand for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which the West will not introduce.

“In the darkest times for our country, for all of Europe, I call on you to do more,” he said.

The United States announced an additional $800 million in security aid to Ukraine to fight Russia, with the new package including drones, anti-armour and anti-aircraft systems.

Shells hit theater housing civilians, Biden calls Putin a war criminal
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, introduces Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to address the U.S. Congress via video on Capitol Hill in Washington.
PA

“Others will come as we source additional stocks of equipment that … we are ready to transfer,” Biden said, later condemning Putin.

“He’s a war criminal,” he told reporters.

NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels also promised to provide more weapons to help Ukraine.

The UN Security Council is due to vote Friday on a Russian-drafted appeal for aid access and protection for civilians, but diplomats say the measure is doomed because it does not push at the end of the fighting or the withdrawal of the troops.

New York Post

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