“War crime” charges as Russia bombs maternity hospital
Russia has been accused of committing a war crime after severely damaging a maternity hospital in an attack in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there were “people, children under the wreckage” of the hospital and called the strike an atrocity. “The destruction is colossal,” the city council said, adding that there are reports of many dead and injured, with children buried under rubble. The UN called the attack “shocking”, the US condemned the bombing as “barbaric” and the UK said it was “abhorrent”. Authorities said they were trying to establish how many people have been killed or wounded but a local official said the strike on the recently-refurbished hospital, which included a paediatric unit, wounded at least 17 staff. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked by Reuters for comment, said: “Russian forces do not fire on civilian targets.” The bombing came soon after WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that agency had already “verified 18 attacks” on healthcare facilities, workers and ambulances – including 10 deaths and 16 injuries.
Locals use mass graves to bury thousands
The Guardian reports social workers in Mariupol buried at least 40 bodies in an 80-foot-long trench Tuesday and another 47 on Wednesday. There were no mourners present. Ukrainian Deputy Mayor Sergiy Orlov told CNN earlier that the mass-grave victims were among 1,207 confirmed dead in the country by late Monday – while predicting the real tally is likely “three to four times more.” All were civilians “killed on the street,” he said.
35,000 civilians evacuated on Wednesday
At least 35,000 civilians were evacuated from besieged Ukrainian cities on Wednesday, President Zelensky said. In a video address late Wednesday, the Ukrainian leader said three humanitarian corridors had allowed residents to leave the cities of Sumy, Enerhodar and areas around Kyiv. He hoped the evacuations would continue today, Thursday, with three more routes set to open out of the cities of Mariupol, Volnovakha in the southeast and Izium in eastern Ukraine.
Russia accused of ceasefire violations
Meanwhile, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of breaking the ceasefire around the southern port of Mariupol. “Indiscriminate shelling continues,” he wrote on Twitter. Satellite images showed extensive damage to homes, apartment buildings, grocery stores and shopping centres in Mariupol. Russia’s defence ministry blamed Ukraine for the failure of the evacuation.
2.1 million refugees flee, others scramble to safety
An estimated 2,155,271 refugees have fled Ukraine, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Of that, 1,294,903 refugees were estimated to have fled to Poland. Nationwide, thousands are thought to have been killed, both civilians and soldiers, in the two weeks of fighting since theRussian invasion. UNICEF said over a million children have fled from Ukraine to neighbouring countries. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that 516 civilians, including 37 children, were killed in Ukraine, and 908 were injured. Meanwhile, a US source said between 5,000 and 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed and between 15,000 and 18,000 injuured in combat in the first two weeks of conflict in Ukraine.
US warns of Russian chemical weapons attack
The White House said Russia may carry out a “false flag” operation using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Russia’s “false claims” that the US conducted WMD (weapons of mass destruction) research in Ukraine could be a deliberate smokescreen to deploy the dreaded weapons. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that invading Russian troops found documents that show Ukraine’s health ministry recently ordered the destruction of samples of plague, cholera and anthrax.
In other news…
EU demands end to ‘golden passports’
Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday voted 595 for, 12 against and with 74 abstentions to end the so called ‘golden passport’ schemes. The vote, which is not binding, calls for an all out ban on the purchase of citizenship by 2025 and significantly-increased background checks to come into force immediately.
Conservative elected South Korean president
Conservative Yoon Suk-yeol has been elected president of South Korea. The country thus returns to a conservative administration after the five years of the Democrat Moon Jae-in. Opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol , who won by kess than 1% of the vote, has pledged to take a tougher stand against North Korea.
Ancelotti hails Champions League hat-trick hero
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti hailed Karim Benzema as a “fantastic leader” after the striker’s sensational hat-trick dumped Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League last night. PSG looked on course of the last eight when Mbappe put them 2-0 up on aggregate late in the first half. Los Blancos roared back in the second period, though, thanks to Benzema’s hat-trick – the second and third of which came within the space of just 106 seconds. “Karim Benzema is a fantastic leader, a fantastic centre forward,” Ancellotti told reporters. PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino said Madrid’s first goal should have been ruled out for a foul by Benzema on goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, but Ancelotti did not agree with his opposite number. Pochettino slammed the officials and asked why VAR was not used to rule out Real Madrid’s first goal. Benzema’s third sparked jubilant scenes at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Ancelotti describing the stadium as “magic”.