Ukraine War: Russia Targets Maternity Hospital, Fearing Chemical Weapons May Be Used

A RUSSIAN attack has severely damaged a maternity hospital in the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine has said, amid warnings that Vladimir Putin may turn to chemical weapons.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned there are “people, children under the rubble” in Mariupol, as he called Putin’s attack on the hospital an “atrocity”.

Western officials have warned of their “serious concern” that Putin could use chemical weapons in Ukraine to commit further atrocities during the invasion.

Their assessment was that an “utterly gruesome” attack on the capital of Kiev could come as Russian forces overcome suspected logistical problems delaying their attacks.

Video footage shared by Mr Zelensky showed cheerfully painted hallways strewn with twisted metal and room after room with blown out windows. The floors were covered with wreckage. Outside, a small fire burned and debris covered the ground.

The Mariupol city council said on its social media site that the damage was “colossal”.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called it a “petrifying war crime” as he pleaded for allies to supply planes to Ukraine.

Boris Johnson said there were ‘few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and helpless’, while reiterating the UK was exploring more support to help Ukraine defend against airstrikes .

A Western official warned that “we have good reason to be concerned about the possible use of unconventional weapons, in part because of what we have seen that has happened in other theatres”.

They added: “As I’ve mentioned before, for example, what we’ve seen in Syria, partly because we’ve seen a bit of a set-up for that in the false flag allegations that are coming out, and d other indications as well.

“So it’s a serious concern for us.”

Authorities previously announced new ceasefires to allow thousands of civilians to escape from towns around Kyiv as well as the southern towns of Mariupol, Enerhodar and Volnovakha, Izyum in the east and Sumy in the north. -East.

Previous attempts to set up safe evacuation corridors have largely failed due to Russian attacks. But Putin, in a phone call with the German Chancellor, accused Ukrainian nationalist activists of obstructing evacuations.

It was not immediately clear if anyone could leave the other towns on Wednesday, but people left the outskirts of Kiev, many headed for the city center, even as explosions were heard in the capital and that air raid sirens sounded repeatedly. From there, the evacuees planned to board trains bound for unattacked areas of western Ukraine.

Civilians trying to escape from Kyiv’s Irpin suburb have been forced across the slippery wooden planks of a makeshift bridge after Ukrainians blew up the concrete span days ago to slow down the Russian advance.

With sporadic gunfire echoing behind them, firefighters dragged an elderly man to safety in a wheelbarrow, a child grabbed the hand of a helping soldier and a woman cradled a fluffy cat in his winter coat. They trudged past a wrecked van with the words “Our Ukraine” written in the dust covering its windows.

“We have little time at the moment,” said Yevhen Nyshchuk, a member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces. “Even though there is a ceasefire right now, there is a high risk of shells falling at any time.”

In Mariupol, local authorities rushed to bury the dead in a mass grave. City workers dug a trench about 25 meters long in one of the city’s old cemeteries and made the sign of the cross as they pushed bodies wrapped in mats or sacks over the edge.

Across the country, thousands of people are believed to have been killed, both civilians and soldiers, in the two weeks of fighting since Putin’s forces invaded. The UN estimates that more than two million people have fled the country, the largest refugee exodus in Europe since the end of World War II.

The fighting has cut off power to the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, sparking fears over spent fuel that is stored at the site and needs to be kept cool. But the United Nations nuclear watchdog said it saw “no critical security impact” from the loss of power.

The crisis in Ukraine is likely to escalate as Russian forces step up their bombardment of cities in response to stronger-than-expected resistance. Russian casualties were “far greater” than Putin and his generals expected, CIA Director William Burns said on Tuesday.

An intensified push by Russian forces could mean “ugly weeks ahead”, Mr. Burns told a congressional committee, warning that Mr. Putin is likely to “reduce Ukraine’s military regardless of civilian casualties”.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace echoed those comments, telling MPs Russia’s onslaught will become “more brutal and indiscriminate” as Putin tries to regain momentum.

The Defense Ministry said fighting continued northwest of Kyiv. The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol were heavily shelled and remained surrounded by Russian forces.

Russian forces are placing military equipment in farms and amid residential buildings in the northern city of Chernihiv, the Ukrainian military said. In the south, plainclothes Russians are advancing towards the city of Mykolaiv, a Black Sea shipbuilding center of 500,000 people, he said.

The Ukrainian army, meanwhile, is building defenses in northern, southern and eastern cities, and forces around Kiev are “holding the line” against the Russian offensive, authorities said.

In Irpin, a town of 60,000 people, police and soldiers helped elderly people leave their homes. One man was hoisted out of a damaged structure on a makeshift stretcher, while another was pushed towards Kiev in a shopping trolley. Fleeing residents said they had been without power and water for the past four days.