- A Russian airstrike in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol hit a maternity ward that injured 17 people.
- The strike adds to a civilian death toll of more than 1,400, according to the United Nations.
- Ukraine’s president has chastised world powers for not giving in to his calls for a no-fly zone.
A Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital in the southern Ukrainian town of Mariupol left 17 injured on Wednesday, the latest attack on civilians as the Kremlin continues its assault on Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky tweeted that Russian troops had made a “direct strike” on maternity. He called it an “atrocity” and said: “People, children are under the wreckage.”
“How much longer will the world be an ignorant accomplice in terror,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “Close the sky now!” Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to lose your humanity.
The attack on the Mariupol hospital complex was widely condemned by refugee and humanitarian advocates.
International Rescue Committee CEO David Miliband has called for strikes and similar attacks on evacuation corridors intended to provide civilians with safe passage out of the war zone.
“The targeting and bombing of a children’s hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, is a horrific testament to lawlessness and impunity as well as inhumanity,” he said in a prepared statement.
The United States and NATO resisted Zelenskyy’s demands to establish a no-fly zone. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that US interference could make the war worse.
Continued:Russia threatens US with sanctions; Artillery strike devastates maternity hospital: live updates from Ukraine
A series of explosions at the Mariupol complex destroyed the facade of a building, shaking the ground in the port city, which came under heavy Russian attack, according to the Associated Press. At least 17 people were injured in the blast, AP reported.
“We’ve definitely seen these reports,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “It is horrifying to see the type of barbaric use of military force to target innocent civilians in a sovereign country.”
Around 2 million people have fled Ukraine amid a growing refugee crisis. Ceasefires around several Ukrainian towns have been announced in an attempt to give civilians a chance to escape before fighting resumes.
In Mariupol, the city council posted a video on social media showing the dilapidated buildings.
“The destruction is enormous,” the city council said on Telegram. “The medical facility building where the children were treated recently was completely destroyed. Information about the affected children is being clarified.”
Continued:Mapping and tracking the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Air strikes increase civilian casualties
The injured in the strike against the maternity ward are the latest civilian casualties in a war that has already injured or killed more than 1,000 civilians.
As of March 8, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported 1,424 civilian casualties, including 516 civilians killed and 908 injured since Russia began its invasion on February 24.
The true civilian toll of the war, however, is still unclear. The UN said its totals are likely an undercount of civilian casualties, and have not been updated to reflect Wednesday’s explosion in Mariupol.
Most of these civilian casualties are the product of explosive weapons capable of inflicting damage over a wide area and in different regions of Ukraine, according to the UN, “including heavy artillery and rocket bombardment. multiple rockets, and missiles and airstrikes.”
At least 37 children were killed and 50 were injured in the assault.
“There are very credible reports of civilians coming under fire as they attempt to evacuate. Targeting civilians is a war crime, and it is totally unacceptable. We need genuine humanitarian corridors that are fully respected,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “We have made it clear for months that President (Vladimir) Putin will pay a high price for further aggression against Ukraine and this price is exactly what he pays. now.”
Maternity, other civilian attacks condemned
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell called attacks on civilian and civilian infrastructure “unacceptable” and urged an immediate end to such strikes and a ceasefire allowing humanitarian groups to to reach children in need.
“The children of Ukraine desperately need peace,” she said in a statement.
Robert McConnell, co-founder of the US-Ukraine Foundation, called evacuation corridors for refugees “killing zones”. He pleaded for a “limited no-fly zone” and said the United States and NATO must act to stop Putin.
A “humanitarian no-fly zone” could be patrolled to ensure safe passage for civilians, he said, without engaging in open conflict.
“There is a war going on, and it’s much bigger than Ukraine, and to claim otherwise is reckless.”
Daniel Fried, former ambassador to Poland during the Clinton administration, said Putin’s attack on motherhood is consistent with how he waged war in previous countries, such as Chechnya or Syria.
“It’s totally his way of waging war, no one should be surprised,” he said. “It’s a war to terrorize the population and punish Ukrainians because he hates them. He hates them because they exist. He wants to pound them until they’re almost Russian or until they give up.
Contributor: Rebecca Morin
Join Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison and Rick Rouan @rickrouan.