Mariupol massacre: everything we know so far about Ukraine hospital bombing

President Zelenskyy tells Western leaders that refusing to impose no-fly zone makes them complicit in terror

A satellite image of the hospital before the bombing
A satellite image of the Mariupol hospital before the bombing
(Image credit: Satellite image (c) 2022 Maxar Technologies)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of committing a “war crime” after a bomb fired by a Russian jet destroyed the maternity and children’s ward of a hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol.

In a video posted on his social media channels, Zelenskyy urged the West to impose stronger sanctions against Moscow so that it “no longer has any possibility to continue this genocide” against unarmed Ukrainian civilians.

“Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage,” he said. He also used the attack to push for a no-fly zone, warning: “How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”

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‘Humanitarian crisis’

The Russian attack on the port city of Mariupol has killed at least 1,170 people, according to deputy mayor Sergiy Orlov. He told The Guardian that civilian areas have come under “continuous Russian shelling”, stating that at least 47 people had to be buried in a mass grave due to the influx of bodies, describing the events as “medieval”.

“It’s pure genocide. The attack isn’t simply treacherous. It’s a war crime.”

“A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in this encircled city of 430,000,” Associated Press reported. “An attempt to evacuate civilians and deliver badly needed food, water and medicine through a designated safe corridor failed” this week, with Ukrainian officials claiming “Russian forces had fired on the convoy before it reached the city”.

“Corpses lie in the streets” and “hungry people break into stores in search of food and melt snow for water”, the news agency said. “Thousands huddle in basements, trembling at the sound of Russian shells pounding this strategic port city.”

According to the BBC, three people – including one child – were killed in the strike on the hospital. At least 17 others were reportedly injured, some of whom included pregnant women.

“Images of the aftermath show injured pregnant women being carried from the scene,” The Washington Post said. Other verified videos shared on social media suggested the death toll “could have been much worse”, The Times reported.

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“The bomb, likely to have been at least 500lb, landed in the corner of the yard of the hospital in Mariupol city centre, just outside the maternity and children’s wards,” the paper said. It appears to have missed the building “by feet”.

“Heavily pregnant women could be seen staggering away, their faces covered in blood,” the paper added. “In one image, a woman who appeared to be full term was stretchered across the yard, clutching her stomach.”

‘Global anti-war effort’

Boris Johnson, who has been in daily contact with President Zelenskyy since the outbreak of war, was among the first world leaders to condemn the attack.

“There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless,” he said. “The UK is exploring more support for Ukraine to defend against airstrikes and we will hold Putin to account for his terrible crimes.”

During a visit to Washington, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, in a press conference alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken, that the incident was “reckless and abhorrent”. She added that by “letting up” its efforts to help Ukraine, the UK “would be sending a message that sovereign nations can be trampled on”.

“Now is not the time to let up,’ she warned. “Putin must fail. If we do not do enough now, other aggressors around the world will be emboldened.”

Whether a no-fly zone will now be on the table in Western capitals remains to be seen. Western leaders have repeatedly stated that it will not enforce the measure, citing a fear that it could lead to engagement with Russian troops that could trigger a global conflict.

In an interview with Die Zeit, conducted by email so as to hide his location, Zelenskyy said: “Defending Ukraine and the help of the West is really a global anti-war effort.

“All of the potential attackers around the world need to know what awaits them if they start a war,” he added, warning that Putin wants to “tear Europe apart, just like Ukraine”.

Questioned about the attack on the hospital, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, said: “Russian forces do not fire on civilian targets.” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova admitted that the bombing had taken place, but claimed “nationalist battalions” were using the site to set up firing positions.

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