A Russian airstrike devastated a maternity hospital Wednesday in the besieged port city of Mariupol amid growing warnings from the West that Moscow’s invasion is about to take a more brutal and indiscriminate turn. Ukrainian officials said the attack wounded at least 17 people.
The ground shook more than a mile away when the Mariupol complex was hit by a series of blasts that blew out windows and ripped away much of the front of one building. Police and soldiers rushed to the scene to evacuate victims, carrying out a heavily pregnant and bleeding woman on a stretcher as light snow drifted down on burning and mangled cars and trees shattered by the blast.
Another woman wailed as she clutched her child. In the courtyard, a blast crater extended at least two stories deep.
“Today Russia committed a huge crime,” said Volodymir Nikulin, a top regional police official, standing in the ruins. “It is a war crime without any justification.”
In Zhytomyr, a city of 260,000 to the west of Kyiv, bombs fell on two hospitals, one of them a children’s hospital, Mayor Serhii Sukhomlyn said on Facebook. He said the number of casualties was still being determined. His report could not be independently confirmed.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Mariupol strike trapped children and others under the rubble.
“A children’s hospital. A maternity hospital. How did they threaten the Russian Federation?” Zelenskyy asked in his nightly video address, switching to Russian to express his horror at the airstrike. “What kind of country is this, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals, afraid of maternity hospitals, and destroys them?”
He urged the West to impose even tougher sanctions, so Russia “no longer has any possibility to continue this genocide.”