Russia bombs Red Cross building in Mariupol

Russia bombs Red Cross building in Mariupol as new drone footage shows apocalyptic scenes across the city and 70 women and medics are abducted from maternity hospital and taken to Russia

  • Mariupol has been all-but razed by air strikes launched by Moscow’s forces
  • What was once a bustling port city of 400,000 people now lies in total ruin
  • The aerial video shows destroyed buildings stretching as far as the eye can see 
  • President Vladimir Putin said the city must surrender before the shelling ends
  • Kyiv has accused Moscow of forcibly evacuating 20,000 people to Russia 
  • It said 70 medics and women were taken today from a Mariupol maternity ward 
  • Another maternity hospital in Mariupol was hit by bombardment on March 9

Russian forces struck a Red Cross facility in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine said today, where officials have warned of an unfolding humanitarian disaster.

But despite the dire situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned shelling of the city would only end when Ukrainian troops in the city surrender.

‘In Mariupol, the occupiers aimed at the building of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),’ Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said in a statement on social media, adding the building ‘marked with a red cross on a white background’ was targeted by aircraft and artillery. 

The attack came a day after the ICRC urged Ukraine and Russia to agree on the delivery of aid and safe evacuation of civilians from the city where vitals are quickly running out. It is feared 160,000 people are still trapped inside the city.

Earlier, apocalyptic drone footage showed the level of destruction in the city, where they mayor’s office today claimed Vladimir Putin’s troops have abducted 70 women and medics from a maternity hospital and taken them to Russia.

Mariupol has been all-but razed by Moscow’s forces, with the shocking aerial video showing the sheer scale of the destruction of what was a picturesque port city home to 400,000 people before Putin’s invasion on February 24. 

Now, more than 20,000 of the city’s residents have been taken ‘against their will’ to Russia, where their identity documents were confiscated and before they were moved ‘to Russian cities far away,’ the mayor’s office said on its Telegram channel. 

Pictured: Aerial drone footage shows destroyed buildings in Mariupol stretching as far as the eye can see. Today, Kyiv accused Russian forces of striking a Red Cross facility in the city

‘More than 70 people, women and medical personnel from maternity hospital No. 2 from the left bank district were taken by force by the occupiers,’ the office said.

The information could not be independently verified as Mariupol has been under a month-long siege and intense bombardment, with communication largely cut off.

Another maternity hospital in Mariupol was struck by Russian bombardment on March 9, sparking international condemnation.

At least three people including one child died in the attack.

Russian officials both dismissed the attack as being staged by Ukraine and justified it by claiming the hospital was being used by extremist Ukrainian forces and that all medical personnel and patients had long been gone.

France, Greece and Turkey have been trying to organise a mass evacuation of civilians from the city, but talks between French President Emmanuel Macron and Putin ended Tuesday without a deal.

The proposal has for the time being been rejected by Putin, who said ‘nationalists’ in the besieged port city of Mariupol must surrender before the ‘difficult humanitarian situation’ is resolved, effectively scuppering the proposed relief mission.  

The aerial drone footage released today shows destroyed buildings stretching as far as the eye can see. Just one building seemingly remains unscathed amongst the rubble – the city’s stunning Russian orthodox Cathedral.

Mariupol has been all-but razed by Moscow’s forces, with the shocking aerial video (pictured) showing the sheer scale of the destruction of what was a picturesque port city home to 400,000 people before Putin’s invasion on February 24

The footage shows the ruins of the city’s theatre that was destroyed in an airstrike on March 16. At the time, it was being used as a civilian shelter, and was attacked despite the word ‘children’ being written in large letters outside. As many as 300 are feared dead

Russian forces have encircled the city and their steady and indiscriminate bombardment has killed at least 5,000 people, but possibly as many as 20,000, according some estimates

Just one building seemingly remains unscathed amongst the rubble – the city’s stunning Russian orthodox Cathedral (pictured at the top of this still image from drone footage)

Commentators have said this is yet more proof that the Kremlin’s forces attacks on the surrounding civilian buildings have been deliberate, as it appears that they have been able to avoid striking the historic building.

The footage also shows the ruins of the city’s theatre that was destroyed in an airstrike on March 16. At the time, it was being used as a civilian shelter, and was attacked despite the word ‘children’ being written in large letters outside.

Estimates of the number of people inside the theatre have varied, with initial reports suggesting as many as 1,300 people were taking shelter. 

Russian shelling has meant officials have not been able to get close enough to the theatre to assess full scale of the destruction, but as many as 300 people are believed to have been killed.

Wednesday’s strike would not be the first time a Red Cross facility has allegedly been attacked by Russian forces in Ukraine.

ICRC director-general Robert Mardini on Tuesday that the Ukrainian Red Cross branch in Kropyvnytskyi was attacked.

An ICRC spokesperson later said that an angry person had confronted Red Cross workers and physically attacked that office, causing some damage but no injuries.

Asked about Ukrainian accusations of forced deportation of Mariupol residents to Russia, Mardini said yesterday that he had no direct information and would not participate in such as it violated the rules of war. 

Damaged buildings are seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

Mariana Vishegirskaya stands outside a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

‘People are caught and trapped in the line of fire. And it is happening unfortunately in many places today in Ukraine, not only in Mariupol,’ Mardini said at ICRC headquarters in Geneva five weeks after Russia launched its invasion.

‘What we expect and what is needed for civilians is that there is a clear and explicit agreement by the two sides on safe evacuations of civilians.’

With Russia causing global shock for shelling residential areas, the ICRC issued a statement on Tuesday reminding the warring sides of international obligations to protect civilians and target only military objectives.

Russia calls its mission a ‘special operation’ to disarm and ‘denazify’ Ukraine.

Mardini said that there was an ‘outrageous’ disinformation campaign against the ICRC on social media and politicization of humanitarian work that was raising risks for aid workers.

The ICRC was in talks to open an operational base in Rostov-on-Don in Russia as part of its regional scale up, but it should not be misconstrued as being linked to deportations, Mardini said.

Mardini also urged Ukraine and Russia to let the ICRC visit prisoners of war, as it does worldwide in line with the Geneva Conventions, and return remains of the dead.

‘It’s always sensitive but I think there is also a humanitarian imperative for detainees, for families, to have news of their loved ones,’ he said.  

A view of the destruction of the city of besieged Mariupol in Ukraine on Saturday March 26

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday called the Russian siege of Mariupol a ‘crime against humanity’.

The president said some 20,000 people are believed to have been killed in the conflict so far, though the number of casualties could not be independently verified. 

Negotiations between Russian and Ukraine saw little progress for the estimated 160,000 people still trapped with little food, water or medicine in Mariupol.

Russian forces have encircled the city and their steady and indiscriminate bombardment has killed at least 5,000 people, but possibly as many as 20,000, according to one Ukrainian official. 

Aid groups have called regularly for access to Mariupol, decrying hellish conditions, and Ukrainian officials have accused Russian troops of forcibly deporting residents to Russia.

Civilians who have managed to escape Mariupol describe a place with ‘death everywhere’.

‘We buried our neighbours, we saw death everywhere and even my children saw it,’ said Mariia Tsymmerman, who fled to Zaporizhzhia two weeks ago but is now making the perilous journey back to deliver supplies and help others leave.

‘I know a woman who killed her own dog to feed her children,’ she said.

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