Tuesday, October 3

Russia bombed Mariupol art school sheltering 400 people, says Ukraine | Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities have said Moscow’s forces bombed an art school in Mariupol where more than 400 people had taken shelter, amid further reports that civilians from the devastated southern city were being forcibly transported to Russia.

Days after Russian shells struck a theater in the city also being used as a shelter, local authorities said Mariupol’s G12 art school had been destroyed while women, children and elderly people were inside. There was no immediate word on casualties.

As Moscow claimed on Sunday it had fired a hypersonic missile against Ukraine for the second time, Ukraine’s human rights spokesperson, Lyudmyla Denisova, accused Russia’s forces of kidnapping Mariupol residents and taking them to Russia.

“In recent days, several thousand Mariupol residents have been deported to Russia,” Denisova said on Telegram. After processing at “filtration camps”, some were then transported to the Russian city of Taganrog, about 60 miles (100km) from Mariupol, and from there sent by rail “to various economically depressed cities in Russia”, she said.

Denisova said Ukrainian citizens had been “issued papers that require them to be in a certain city. They have no right to leave it for at least two years with the obligation to work at the specified place of work. The fate of others remains unknown.”

Russian news agencies have said hundreds of people Moscow calls refugees have been taken by bus from Mariupol to Russia.

Denisova said the “abductions and forced displacements” violated the Geneva conventions and the European convention on human rights and called on the international community to “respond… and increase sanctions against the terrorist state of the Russian Federation”.

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In a separate post, Denisova said 56 elderly people in the town of Kreminna in the Luhansk region had died after a Russian tank “cynically and purposefully fired at a home for the elderly”. Fifteen survivors were “abducted by the occupiers”, she said, calling the attack “another act of horrific genocide”.

A total of 6,623 civilians were evacuated on Saturday along humanitarian corridors, including 4,000 from Mariupol, authorities said on Sunday, with Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk adding that seven safe routes would again be open on Sunday to enable civilians to leave frontline areas.

More than 3.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine to escape the Russian onslaught in Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since the second world war, the UN has said, with another 6.5 million thought to be displaced inside the country.

Russia’s defense ministry said on Sunday it had deployed another of its new Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missiles, which travel faster than the speed of sound and can change direction mid-flight, making them hard to intercept.

The ministry in Moscow said a Kinzhal missile had hit a fuel depot near the southern city of Mykolaiv. On Saturday it said it had used the missile for the first time to destroy an ammunition depot in western Ukraine.

It added that cruise missiles had also been launched from Russian warships in the Caspian Sea to strike the fuel depot and an armor repair plant in the northern Chernihiv region of Ukraine. The claims could not be independently verified.

Russian shelling also heavily damaged the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol, one of the largest in Europe, Ukrainian officials said. “The economic losses for Ukraine are immense,” tweeted an MP, Lesia Vasylenko.

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The mayor of the encircled northern city of Chernihiv said on Sunday a hospital had been hit in the latest shelling, killing dozens of civilians. “The city is suffering from an absolute humanitarian catastrophe,” Vladislav Atroshenko said.

Details are also emerging of a rocket attack that killed as many as 40 marines in Mykolaiv, a Black Sea port city, on Friday, according to the New York Times, which cited an unnamed Ukrainian military official.

Russian forces fired on eight cities and villages in the eastern Donetsk region between Friday and Saturday, Ukraine’s national police said, killing or wounding dozens of civilians. At least 37 residential buildings and facilities were damaged including a school, a museum and a shopping center.

However, the Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Sunday that the frontlines between Ukrainian and Russian forces were “practically frozen” as Russia did not have enough combat strength to advance further. “[Over the past day] there were practically no rocket strikes on [Ukrainian] cities,” Arestovych added.

Humanitarian conditions in Ukraine, meanwhile, continued to deteriorate. Aid agencies have warned they are struggling to reach hundreds of thousands of people trapped by Russian forces, whose advance has been slowed by logistics problems and fierce Ukrainian resistance around several key cities.

Mariupol is among the hardest hit after suffering heavy bombardment since the start of Russia’s invasion on 24 February, leaving many of its residents without heat, power or water. Local authorities have said at least 2,300 residents have died, some of whom had to be buried in mass graves.

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“To do such a thing to a peaceful city, what the occupiers have done, this is a terror that will be remembered even in the next century,” the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in a video address early on Sunday. Rescue workers on Sunday were still searching for survivors in the Mariupol Drama Theater flattened by Russian airstrikes on Wednesday.

In the capital, Kyiv, authorities said at least 20 babies carried by Ukrainian surrogate mothers were being cared for by nurses in a bomb shelter because of constant shelling, with parents unable to travel into the war zone to pick them up.

Britain’s defense ministry said Ukrainian resistance had forced Russia to “change its operational approach”, but warned that Moscow’s strategy of attrition was “likely to involve the indiscriminate use of firepower resulting in increased civilian casualties, destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure, and intensify the humanitarian crisis ”.


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