Ukraine says Russia bombed Mariupol art school amid reports of forced evictions.
The Russian military bombed an art school that housed 400 people in Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. It is the second time in less than a week that Russian forces have struck buildings in Mariupol that civilians were using for shelter after a bomb hit a theater on Wednesday in which more than 1,000 people are believed to have been hiding. There was no immediate word on casualties in the strategic port city which has been absolutely devastated by Russian attacks as officials warn that food and water are running out and constant street battles have held the remote humanitarian convoys. “The city continues to be bombarded both from the air and from the sea,” Petro Andrushenko, adviser to the city’s mayor, wrote on Telegram. “It seems the occupiers are so eager to annihilate Mariupol that they are ready to cover themselves in fire.”
There is increasingly nowhere for civilians to go in Mariupol, as Russian forces are present in all its neighborhoods. The battle for the city now involves “house-to-house guerrilla warfare”, reports the Washington Post. The city is also targeted by Russian gunships. The civilians who manage to escape paint a picture of a city descended into horror. “There is no more city,” said one person upon arriving in Lviv. Officials estimate around 10% of the city’s 430,000 residents have risked their lives to escape over the past week, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s siege of Mariupol was “a terror that will be remembered for centuries”.
Amid reports of the horrific situation in Mariupol, local officials say thousands of residents are being forcibly taken across the border into Russia. “Over the past week, several thousand residents of Mariupol have been deported to Russian territory,” the Mariupol city council said. Local officials compare the actions of Russian troops to those of the Nazis. “What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis captured people by force,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said. Captured locals are taken to “filtration camps” and then sent to distant Russian towns, local officials said.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations, expressed horror at the information, although she acknowledged it had not been independently verified. “I only heard it. I can’t confirm that,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN. “But I can say that it is disturbing. It is inadmissible for Russia to force Ukrainian citizens into Russia and place them in what will essentially be concentration and prison camps.
As fighting continues with Russian forces seemingly unable to take full control of major Ukrainian cities, analysts widely agree the war is reaching a bloody stalemate. The initial plan to quickly take control of kyiv and other major cities appears to have failed and more attacks are now likely to target civilian positions. Britain’s Defense Intelligence Agency has warned it expects more “indiscriminate bombing of urban areas resulting in widespread destruction and large numbers of civilian casualties”.