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. Moscow has said its forces aren’t deliberately targeting civilians. 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.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the U.S. on Wednesday of declaring “economic war” on Russia after President Biden banned imported oil and other energy sources from the country.

U.S. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken

and U.K. Foreign Secretary

Liz Truss

said during a joint press conference on Wednesday that their governments would continue to exert diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia, but they again rejected calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. The Pentagon also rejected the idea of North Atlantic Treaty Organization members providing Soviet-built MiG-29 combat jets to Ukraine, despite intense lobbying by Kyiv.

The Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of an international conference in Antalya, Turkey, on Thursday. A third round of talks between the two sides on Monday on how to end the war failed to achieve much progress.

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 suburb west of the city and bombing Ukrainian positions southwest of Kyiv, 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 U.N.’s 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. But military experts say the aid may be too late, and that Ukraine’s military might not be able to absorb a swell of new hardware to make a difference in the current conflict.

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 formally pulled the plug on the plan Wednesday.

The U.S. military deemed the Polish proposal “high risk” and assessed that it wouldn’t “significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force relative to Russian capabilities,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

As civilian casualties have mounted, Ukraine President

Volodymyr Zelensky

has stepped up his rhetoric against Moscow as well as the West for not imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine that NATO fears could lead to a direct conflict with Russia.

“How much longer will the world be an accomplice to ignoring terror?” Mr. Zelensky tweeted after the bombing of the maternity hospital. “You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”

In Ukraine, television channels and the government have touted victories against better-armed Russians. Privately, Ukraine government officials say that the best they can do is bloody the Russian forces as Ukrainian forces fall back.

In Kyiv, the government held a press conference Wednesday featuring Russian soldiers, all captured in what they described as an invasion plan botched by poor planning, mud, and misinformation about their mission.

The press conference appeared to skirt an article of the Geneva Conventions that calls for prisoners of war to be protected against “insults and public curiosity.” The Ukrainian government has said it treats its prisoners well, offering them medical treatment if needed.

The prisoners denied being mistreated by Ukrainian authorities and said they participated voluntarily in the news conference to inform the Russian public. Some read from notes in monotone voices denouncing Russia as a criminal power and saying they wanted to remain in Ukraine.

Funerals in Lviv for Ukrainian service members killed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.



Photo:

yuriy dyachyshyn/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

One of the prisoners, who identified himself as Sergei Galkin from Saratov, Russia, said he and others in his unit were called to border areas near Ukraine and had their mobile phones confiscated shortly before they were sent into Ukraine without warning. Mr. Galkin began to cry when he described passing into Ukraine at the beginning of the invasion and seeing a smashed block post and dead Ukrainian soldiers.

Mr. Galkin said he and others in his unit were isolated in a swamp after some of their machinery broke down and were captured by locals following a brief shootout. The press conference was held at the Interfax news agency under the guard of masked officers of Ukraine’s security service, the SBU.

Write to Alan Cullison at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8