Mass deaths feared as Putin's forces bomb Ukrainian theatre where hundreds of people were sheltering

By Rachael Bunyan For Mailonline Published: 18:26 GMT, 16 March 2022 | Updated: 01:32 GMT, 17 March 2022 Russian forces bombed a theatre where hundreds of civilians, including children, were shelterin

Mass deaths feared as Putin's forces bomb Ukrainian theatre where hundreds of people were sheltering

Mass deaths feared as Putin's forces bomb Ukrainian theatre where hundreds of people were sheltering - despite the word CHILDREN being written outside it - leaving many trapped in the rubble and rescuers unable to get close due to continued shelling

  • Russian forces bombed the Mariupol Drama Theatre where civilians, including children, were sheltering
  • Officials said it is impossible to know how many people were killed or injured in attack because the shelling of residential areas continues in the city
  • Satellite imagery from Monday showed the word 'children' written in large white letters in Russian in front of and behind the theatre building in an apparent effort to stave off any attack by Putin's forces
  • Russian rocket attacks also targeted a convoy of people fleeing Mariupol, killing civilians on Wednesday

Russian forces bombed a theatre where hundreds of civilians, including children, were sheltering in the encircled port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, the city council said.

Officials said it is impossible to know how many people were killed or injured in the attack on the Mariupol Drama Theatre because the shelling of residential areas continues in the city, meaning rescuers can't reach those in the rubble. 

Satellite imagery from Monday showed the word 'children' written in large white letters in Russian in front of and behind the theatre building in an apparent effort to stave off any attack by Vladimir Putin's forces. 

But two days later, Russian forces bombed the theatre where hundreds - including sick children and women - were sheltering, with Ukraine condemning the attack as a war crime.  

After the Russian bombing, the central part of the theatre collapsed, burying large numbers of people under rubble, Ukrainian officials said. The debris also blocked the entrance to the bomb shelter located inside the building.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy condemned the attack on the theatre, saying: 'My heart is broken because of what Russia does with our people.'  

Petro Andruishchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said the theatre was the city's largest shelter 'in number and size'. He told CNN: 'More than a thousand people were hiding there but the probability of getting there to dismantle the rubble is low due to constant shelling and bombing of the city.' 

Last week, the Ukrainian military released footage of inside the theatre where scores of women and children were sheltering. 'There are so many children,' a volunteer said as he walked around the dark building. 'All the children have a fever, I don't know what to do. Help us.' 

Russian authorities have repeatedly insisted that their forces are only targeting strategic military locations and are not waging war on the civilian population of Ukraine. But there have been repeated attacks on residential areas by Putin's forces, with three people killed and five wounded after Russian shelling today in Kharkiv.  

Putin faced further allegations of war crimes on Wednesday after video of an attack that was later confirmed by Ukraine's prosecutor general showed at least 10 civilians gunned down while they were queueing for bread outside Chernihiv. 

Ukraine's prosecutor general confirmed in a statement the attack by Russian forces who 'fired at people standing in line for bread near a grocery store.' While new drone footage appeared to show Russian soldiers executing a lone Ukrainian civilian as he held his hands up to surrender on a highway west of Kyiv last week.  

Russian rocket attacks also targeted a convoy of people fleeing Mariupol, killing civilians, including children, on Wednesday after earlier strikes targeted a nearby hub for displaced people. It is not yet known how many were killed in the shelling but an image from the scene showed a burnt out car, with a damaged door blown open. 

The attacks on civilians drew strong condemnation from the West, with US President Joe Biden for the first time describing Putin as a war criminal.  

Russian forces bombed a theatre where hundreds of civilians, including children, were sheltering in the encircled port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, the city council said
After the Russian bombing, the central part of the theatre collapsed and debris blocked the entrance to the bomb shelter located inside the building, the city council said

Russian forces bombed a theatre where hundreds of civilians, including children, were sheltering in the encircled port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, the city council said

Officials said it is impossible to know how many people were killed or injured in the attack on the Mariupol Drama Theatre (pictured before the attack) because the shelling of residential areas continues in the city, meaning rescuers can't reach those in the rubble

Officials said it is impossible to know how many people were killed or injured in the attack on the Mariupol Drama Theatre (pictured before the attack) because the shelling of residential areas continues in the city, meaning rescuers can't reach those in the rubble

Satellite imagery from Monday showed the word 'children' written in large white letters in Russian in front of and behind the theatre building in an effort to stave off any attack by Putin's forces

Satellite imagery from Monday showed the word 'children' written in large white letters in Russian in front of and behind the theatre building in an effort to stave off any attack by Putin's forces

Russian rocket attacks also targeted a convoy of people fleeing Mariupol, killing civilians, including children, after earlier strikes targeted a nearby hub for displaced people. Pictured: A car from a convoy of people fleeing from Mariupol, destroyed by shelling, is seen on a road in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Wednesday

Russian rocket attacks also targeted a convoy of people fleeing Mariupol, killing civilians, including children, after earlier strikes targeted a nearby hub for displaced people. Pictured: A car from a convoy of people fleeing from Mariupol, destroyed by shelling, is seen on a road in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Wednesday 

A volunteer of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces assists a woman to cross the street in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, after she was evacuated from a burning building hit in a Russian missile strike

A volunteer of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces assists a woman to cross the street in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, after she was evacuated from a burning building hit in a Russian missile strike

Three people were killed and five wounded in shelling in Kharkiv city centre on Wednesday - despite Moscow maintaining its forces are only targeting strategic military infrastructure

Three people were killed and five wounded in shelling in Kharkiv city centre on Wednesday - despite Moscow maintaining its forces are only targeting strategic military infrastructure

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire broke out at the Saltivka construction market, hit by 6 rounds of Russian heavy artillery in Kharkiv, on Wednesday

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire broke out at the Saltivka construction market, hit by 6 rounds of Russian heavy artillery in Kharkiv, on Wednesday

Russia has in recent days begun a sustained bombing campaign of Kyiv, targeting civilian buildings as well as administrative centres to inflict considerable damage on the city's infrastructure, as has been observed in other urban centres such as second city Kharkiv9'Russia has in recent days begun a sustained bombing campaign of Kyiv, targeting civilian buildings as well as administrative centres to inflict considerable damage on the city's infrastructure, as has been observed in other urban centres such as second city Kharkiv and southern port city Mariupol.ictu

Russia has in recent days begun a sustained bombing campaign of Kyiv, targeting civilian buildings as well as administrative centres to inflict considerable damage on the city's infrastructure, as has been observed in other urban centres such as second city Kharkiv (pictured)

Ukrainian firefighters sift through the rubble of an apartment building in Kharkhiv after it was hit in sustained Russian shelling of the city

Ukrainian firefighters sift through the rubble of an apartment building in Kharkhiv after it was hit in sustained Russian shelling of the city

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The attacks are among dozens expected to be investigated by the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, who said there is 'zero tolerance' for crimes targeting civilians. 

Khan, who travelled to Ukraine on Wednesday, said: 'No person with a gun, or a missile, or a plane, or a mortar has a licence to target civilians.'  

Meanwhile, the UK, US, Albania, France, Norway and Ireland have requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Thursday in response to the attacks on civilians.  

'Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians,' the British diplomatic mission to the UN said. 'Russia's illegal war on Ukraine is a threat to us all.'

In a further blow to Putin, a senior U.S. defense official said Wednesday that the Russians continue to make little tangible progress across most of Ukraine. The official said Russian forces are still stalled outside Kyiv while continuing to bombard the capital city with missiles.  

UK defence sources also said that Kyiv has Moscow 'on the run' and the Russian army could be just two weeks from 'culmination point' - after which 'the strength of Ukraine's resistance should become greater than Russia's attacking force.'   

Zelenksy on Wednesday night warned Putin that if he continues with his invasion with Ukraine, his forces will continue to face losses.   

'Russian forces have such losses in Ukraine that they didn't have in Syria and Chechnya, that Soviet forces didn't have in Afghanistan,' Zelensky said. 'If your war against Ukrainian people continues, Russian mothers will lose more children than they did in the Afghan and Chechen wars combined.' 

But, as Russia's invasion falters, its methods become more brutal - with cities increasingly coming under indiscriminate rocket fire. 

The Ukrainian military today said Russian troops had fired at civilians who had been travelling from the besieged port city of Zaporizhzhia through a humanitarian corridor - supposedly safe passages for citizens to flee. 

'Today at around 3.30pm (13.30 GMT), a column of civilians being evacuated from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia was fired on by inhuman Russian occupiers,' the military said, adding that 'the number of victims is being clarified'. 

'Heavy artillery of the enemy forces fired on a convoy of civilians moving along the highway towards Zaporizhzhia,' said governor Oleksandr Starukh in an online post. 

Nowhere has suffered more than the encircled city of Mariupol, where local officials say missile strikes and shelling have killed more than 2,300 people. 

The southern seaport of 430,000 has been under attack for almost all of the three-week war in a siege that has left people struggling for food, water, heat and medicine. 

Meanwhile, rescuers in Mariupol were unable to reach the hundreds of civilians who had been hiding in the Drama Theatre when Russia bombed the building.

Serhiy Taruta, a local politician, said fierce battles were ongoing in Mariupol and said no one could get the civilians out of the rubble. 

Taruta told Interfax news agency: 'We don't know if there are survivors. And the worst thing is that we can't get them out of the rubble. Many Mariupol residents were hiding in the theater with small children.

'We undertake an obligation. To the dead and survivors of the Russian bombing. 

'The obligation to find every pilot who drops bombs on Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities. We will find everyone. We will find and destroy. 

'We will not stop until at least one of them breathes. This is our sacred duty.' 

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry accused Russia of committing war crimes by indiscriminately bombing a building that was hosting hundreds of civilians.

'The theatre building served as a shelter for hundreds of Mariupol residents who had lost their homes as a result of Russian armed forces bombing and shelling the city,' the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It added: 'The bomb strike demolished the central part of the theatre building, causing large numbers of people to be buried under the debris. The assessment of the exact number of persons is currently impossible due to ongoing shelling.

'By delivering a purposeful bomb attack to the place of mass gathering of civilians Russia has committed another war crime.'

People fleeing from Mariupol amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine stand next to a police officer, in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Wednesday

People fleeing from Mariupol amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine stand next to a police officer, in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Wednesday

Evacuees from Mariupol are seen upon arrival at the car park of a shopping centre on the outskirts of the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is now a registration centre for displaced people, on Wednesday

Evacuees from Mariupol are seen upon arrival at the car park of a shopping centre on the outskirts of the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is now a registration centre for displaced people, on Wednesday 

A multiple rocket launcher belonging to the Russian armed forces lays abandoned on the side of the road after it was destroyed in close quarter fighting with Ukrainian soldiers

A multiple rocket launcher belonging to the Russian armed forces lays abandoned on the side of the road after it was destroyed in close quarter fighting with Ukrainian soldiers

Volunteers play with children at a shelter in Lviv as one child covers his face with his hands on Wednesday

Volunteers play with children at a shelter in Lviv as one child covers his face with his hands on Wednesday

Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces load magazines during tactical exercises near Lviv in western Ukraine as they prepare to face Russian forces advancing from the east

Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces load magazines during tactical exercises near Lviv in western Ukraine as they prepare to face Russian forces advancing from the east

Women weave a camouflage net on March 16 in Lviv, Ukraine. Lviv has served as a stopover and shelter for the millions of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, either to the safety of nearby countries or the relative security of western Ukraine

Women weave a camouflage net on March 16 in Lviv, Ukraine. Lviv has served as a stopover and shelter for the millions of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, either to the safety of nearby countries or the relative security of western Ukraine

Russian forces in Mariupol have rounded up 400 people from houses neighbouring the city's hospital number two, along with 100 doctors and patients who were already inside, and are refusing to let them leave, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. 

Over 28,800 civilians have managed to escape Mariupol through several humanitarian corridors, but thousands are still stuck in the city, Ukrainian officials said. 

Around 20,000 reached Zaporizhzhia but within hours of them arriving, Moscow's men started pounding the southern Ukrainian city.  

Vladimir Putin's troops launched rocket strikes on Zaporizhzhia overnight, hitting a railway station, though there were no reports of casualties, the regional governor Oleksander Vasylyovych said in an announcement on Facebook.    

It came as three people were killed and five wounded after Russian shelling caused a fire at a market in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, emergency services said. 

Three people were killed and five wounded after Russian shelling caused a fire at a market in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, emergency services said.

Three people were killed and five wounded after Russian shelling caused a fire at a market in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, emergency services said.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire broke out at the Saltivka construction market, hit by 6 rounds of Russian heavy artillery in Kharkiv, on Wednesday

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire broke out at the Saltivka construction market, hit by 6 rounds of Russian heavy artillery in Kharkiv, on Wednesday

A firefighter works to extinguish a fire at a market after it was hit by six rounds of Russian heavy artillery in Kharkiv on Wednesday

A firefighter works to extinguish a fire at a market after it was hit by six rounds of Russian heavy artillery in Kharkiv on Wednesday

A view of destruction in Alexeyevka district after bombing by Russian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Wednesday

A view of destruction in Alexeyevka district after bombing by Russian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Wednesday

Meanwhile Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy went before the U.S. Congress via video and, invoking Pearl Harbor and 9/11, pleaded with America for more weapons and tougher sanctions against Russia, saying: ' We need you right now.' He said the Russian invasion was 'a terror that Europe has not seen, has not seen for 80 years.'

'Remember Pearl Harbor, [that] terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you,' he said.

'Remember September the 11th, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories, into battlefields, when innocent people were attacked from air,' he said. 'No one expected it, no one could stop it.'

'Our country experiences the same, every day, right now at this moment.' 

U.S. President Joe Biden announced the U.S. is sending an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, including more anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons and drones. He also called Vladimir Putin a 'war criminal' in his sharpest condemnation of the Russian leader since the invasion began.    

'More will be coming as we source additional stocks of equipment that... we are ready to transfer,' Biden said, adding that Putin 'is a war criminal'. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the comment was 'unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric', according to Tass news agency.

Zelenksy on Wednesday night praised Biden for giving Ukraine the 'powerful support' of $800million in military aid, but added that sanctions imposed by the West on Moscow must go further and Kiev needed more weapons to stop Russia's onslaught. 

'Ukraine received powerful support of our American friends,' Zelensky said in his regular evening address on Wednesday night. 'I'm thankful to President Biden for it. I'm thankful for leadership that united the democratic world. 

'But the war doesn't stop. Russian war crimes don't stop. The Russian economy is still capable to feed their military machine.

'The most important [thing] is that Ukraine must get more support, more than we get now. Air defence systems, jets, sufficient amount of lethal weapons and ammunition to stop the Russian occupiers.'

Meanwhile, international pressure against the Kremlin mounted and its isolation deepened as the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, ordered Russia to stop attacking Ukraine. Also, the 47-nation Council of Europe, the continent's foremost human rights body, expelled Russia.

Kyiv brought a case at the International Court of Justice immediately after Putin ordered his men to attack on February 24, saying his justification - that genocide was being committed in Donbass - was unfounded and in breach of international law.

Judges today ruled in Ukraine's favour, ordering Russia to call off its forces and stop attacks by troops that it supports - referring to the Donetsk and Luhansk 'republics'.

The court has no power to enforce the ruling and Vladimir Putin is likely to ignore it, but President Volodymyr Zelensky warned today that doing so will 'isolate Russia even further' from other nations.   

While Moscow's ground advance on the Ukrainian capital appeared largely stalled, Putin said the operation was unfolding 'successfully, in strict accordance with pre-approved plans.' He also decried Western sanctions against Moscow, accusing the West of trying to 'squeeze us, to put pressure on us, to turn us into a weak, dependent country.'

A senior U.S. defense official said the Russians were still making little tangible progress in much of the country, but said a key development has been increased Russian naval activity in the northern Black Sea, where ships were shelling suburbs of Odesa. 

Meanwhile Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy went before the U.S. Congress via video and, invoking Pearl Harbor and 9/11, pleaded with America for more weapons and tougher sanctions against Russia, saying: ' We need you right now'

Meanwhile Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy went before the U.S. Congress via video and, invoking Pearl Harbor and 9/11, pleaded with America for more weapons and tougher sanctions against Russia, saying: ' We need you right now'

Children playing at a government children's shelter in Lviv on Wednesday. According to the United Nations, more than three million Ukrainians have become refugees and another two million have been internally displaced since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine

Children playing at a government children's shelter in Lviv on Wednesday. According to the United Nations, more than three million Ukrainians have become refugees and another two million have been internally displaced since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire broke out at the Saltivka construction market, hit by 6 rounds of Russian heavy artillery in Kharkiv, on Wednesday

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire broke out at the Saltivka construction market, hit by 6 rounds of Russian heavy artillery in Kharkiv, on Wednesday

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. military assessments, said it's not clear what the Russians intend to do, but the shelling could be the start of preparations to launch a ground assault on Odesa, Ukraine's third largest city. Russia has warships and landing ships that carry troops and tanks in the Black Sea. 

The source said the Russians have launched more than 980 missiles in Ukraine, and they are still flying around 200 sorties per day, although the total goes up and down. Ukrainians are still flying between five and 10 sorties a day.

The official added that Ukraine continues to control Brovary and Mykolaiv, but the Russians have largely isolated Chernihiv and Mariupol. Roughly 75% of all of Russia's battalion tactical groups - which make up their ground forces - are committed to the fight in Ukraine, the official said.

The number of people who have fled Ukraine since the start of the conflict topped three million this week, according to the UN whose human rights body said 691 civilians have been killed and 1,143 injured, thought it has acknowledged those numbers were likely an undercount.   

Vladimir Putin was last night unanimously declared a war criminal in a vote late Tuesday night by the US Senate, which called for an investigation into the Russian president and his authoritarian regime amid the invasion of Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, there appeared to be movement in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine on Wednesday as Zelensky said that the negotiations with Russia were sounding 'more realistic', but the goodwill fell apart into the afternoon as questions of neutrality arose. 

Moscow earlier Wednesday said that a neutral Ukraine along the lines of Sweden or Austria was being discussed at talks with Kyiv to end three weeks of fighting in Ukraine.

'This is an option that is being discussed now and that can be considered as a compromise,' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Peskov's comments came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said neutrality was taking centre stage at the talks and that Moscow and Kyiv were 'close to agreeing' the wording of an agreement on neutrality. 

But Kyiv rejected the proposal and instead called for legally binding guarantees that international forces signed by international partners, who would 'not stand aside in the event of an attack on Ukraine, as they do today', to 'prevent attacks' in the future. 

'Ukraine is now in a direct state of war with Russia. As a result, the model can only be 'Ukrainian' and only on legally verified security guarantees,' its top negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak said in comments published by President Volodymyr Zelensky's office. 

Zelensky reaffirmed his priorities in the talks in an evening address on Wednesday night, saying: 'The talks on Ukraine continue. My priorities at the talks are crystal clear: end of the war, security guarantees, sovereignty, restoring territorial integrity, real guarantees for our country, real protection of our country.'

Zelensky, speaking in his early morning address on Wednesday, had said that a deal could be struck with Vladimir Putin within one or two weeks because Moscow's forces will run out of fresh troops and supplies by then.    

It comes after footage emerged of a man allegedly being executed on a road outside of Kyiv by Russian troops while attempting to surrender.

The slaughter of civilians, particularly those who do not pose a threat, is considered a war crime under international humanitarian law. 

The video, obtained by German broadcaster ZDF and filmed on March 7, shows a silver car driving along the E40 European expressway west of Kyiv. 

The car was heading towards Kyiv, but upon seeing a Russian tank and a group of soldiers parked by the side of the road, the driver made a rapid U-turn before braking and coming to a stop.

The man exited the car and immediately raised his hands above his head, turning to face the Russian soldiers in a clear show of surrender. But within seconds he was gunned down in cold blood.

Moments later, a gang of soldiers are seen grabbing the civilian's lifeless body and dragging him away into the trees nearby.

The drone operator, a member of the Ukrainian territorial defence force in Kyiv, said a woman and child were also travelling in the car and were subsequently taken captive by the Russian forces.  

The civilian's execution took place mere yards from another car, which appears to have been abandoned on the road outside a petrol station on the E40 expressway west of Kyiv after sustaining damage.

The silver car was later towed away and burnt according to the Ukrainian drone operator, who gave his name only as 'Zanoza' and explained he was tasked with using the Mavic III drone to observe Russian tank positions. 

The incident took place outside the petrol station located a mere 10 miles from the towns of Irpin and Bucha, both of which been decimated in recent days by brutal Russian bombing campaigns, resulting in many civilian deaths and mass evacuations. 

In the city's hospital number three, a heartbreaking picture showed tiny premature children who had been left behind by their parents who made the decision to flee the city, which aid agencies have warned faces a humanitarian disaster

In the city's hospital number three, a heartbreaking picture showed tiny premature children who had been left behind by their parents who made the decision to flee the city, which aid agencies have warned faces a humanitarian disaster

In Mariupol's hospital number two (pictured from above), also known as the intensive care hospital, Russian troops are using those inside as human shields, Kyryklenko said, adding: 'It's impossible to leave the hospital, they are shooting hard.'

In Mariupol's hospital number two (pictured from above), also known as the intensive care hospital, Russian troops are using those inside as human shields, Kyryklenko said, adding: 'It's impossible to leave the hospital, they are shooting hard.'

Zaporizhzhia is the first safe port of call for those fleeing Mariupol (pictured, a baby shelters in a circus building in Zaporizhzhia after fleeing Mariupol) but evacuees now face a new terror after Vladimir Putin's troops launched rocket strikes on the city overnight on Tuesday, hitting a railway station

Zaporizhzhia is the first safe port of call for those fleeing Mariupol (pictured, a baby shelters in a circus building in Zaporizhzhia after fleeing Mariupol) but evacuees now face a new terror after Vladimir Putin's troops launched rocket strikes on the city overnight on Tuesday, hitting a railway station

Servicemen pay tributes on Tuesday over the coffins of three members of the National Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi Land Forces Academy who died as a result of shelling in Lviv

Servicemen pay tributes on Tuesday over the coffins of three members of the National Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi Land Forces Academy who died as a result of shelling in Lviv

The Ukrainian capital remains firmly under the control of Ukraine's military and territorial defence forces, and all Russian attempts to breach the city centre have been successfully repelled.

But Russia has in recent days begun a sustained bombing campaign of Kyiv, targeting civilian buildings as well as administrative centres to inflict considerable damage on the city's infrastructure, as has been observed in other urban centres such as second city Kharkiv and southern port city Mariupol. 

In Mariupol, there were harrowing scenes in the hospitals on Tuesday as premature children were abandoned by their parents who fled the city as medical centres continued to come under attack from Putin's forces. 

Kyrylenko said the main building of hospital two in the seaport has been heavily damaged by shelling, but medical staff are continuing to treat patients in makeshift wards set up in the basement.

He called on the world to respond to these 'gross violations of the norms and customs of war, these egregious crimes against humanity.' 

The Ukrainian army's General Staff says Russian troops are trying to block off the city from the western and eastern outskirts of the city. 'There are significant losses,' it said in a Facebook post. 

Putin's chilling warning to the West and oligarchs: Ranting president tells 'scum' traitors Russians will 'spit them out like a midge that flew into their mouths' and says Western 'attempt to have global dominance' is coming to an end

By Lauren Lewis for MailOnline 

Vladimir Putin today sent a chilling warning to the West and oligarchs telling 'scum' traitors that Russians will 'spit them out like a midge that flew into their mouths' - as he claimed Western 'attempts to have global dominance' is coming to an end. 

The Russian President, speaking in a bombastic televised address from the Kremlin nearly three weeks into Moscow's invasion, warned the West would use 'those who earn their money here, but live over there' as a 'fifth column' to 'divide our society'.  

'I do not judge those with villas in Miami or the French Riviera. Or who can't get by without oysters or foie gras or so-called 'gender freedoms.' The problem is they mentally exist there, and not here, with our people, with Russia,' he said.  'The West will try to bet on the so-called fifth column, on traitors... to divide our society.. to provoke civil confrontation... to strive to achieve its aim. And there is one aim - the destruction of Russia.'    

He claimed that the conflict was merely a pretext for the West to impose sanctions because 'they just don't want a strong and sovereign Russia' and insisted the 'military operation' in Ukraine is going to plan despite his troops' advance remaining largely stalled on the outskirts of Kyiv. But he also told Russians, in words ironically reminiscent of Zelensky's speeches, that 'we are fighting for our sovereignty and the future of our children'.    

It is the latest in the propaganda pushed by Moscow in a bid to justify their invasion of Ukraine to Russian citizens - including claims the war is about 'de-nazifying' the country and preventing a genocide of minorities waged by Kyiv.     

In a coordinated move last month Britain, the US, Canada and the EU, barred Moscow from the Swift international banking system to prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves 'in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions'. 

The states have since imposed a sweeping range of sanctions on exports of champagne, high-end cars, fashion apparel, expensive electronics, sports gear and even vodka among other things as they attempt to bring the Russian economy to its knees in a punishment over Putin's war in Ukraine. 

And in the most recent measures, hundreds of Russian oligarchs, organisations and individuals are set to be hit with sanctions from the Government after a fast-tracked bill to target 'dirty money' in the UK is passed. Several oligarchs, including Chelsea owner Roman Abramovitch, have already been targeted with sanctions. 

Vladimir Putin said today that the West's 'attempt to have global dominance' is coming to an end as he warned it is trying to 'cancel Russia' with an 'economic blitzkreig' of sanctions

Vladimir Putin said today that the West's 'attempt to have global dominance' is coming to an end as he warned it is trying to 'cancel Russia' with an 'economic blitzkreig' of sanctions

At least four yachts and a private jet owned by sanctioned Russians or their families have escaped the grasp of European officials in recent weeks, a Daily Mail investigation can reveal

If the West thought that Russia would step back, it did not understand Russia, Putin said on the 21st day of the war against Ukraine.

He claimed the the operation in Ukraine is unfolding 'successfully, in strict accordance with pre-approved plans' and warned the West is trying to stoke up civil conflict.  

He claimed the West's economic measures were short-sighted as 'most countries do not support sanctions'. 

'The West doesn't even bother to hide the fact that its aim is to damage the entire Russian economy, every Russian,' he said. 

But in his most explicit acknowledgment of the pain inflicted by Western sanctions, he said inflation and unemployment would rise, but promised support to families with children.  

Structural changes to the economy would be needed, Putin said, as he accused the West of trying to 'squeeze us, to put pressure on us, to turn us into a weak, dependent country.'

 

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