Russian war update: 70 Ukrainians buried in trench; 18 attacks on hospitals; fierce Ukrainian resistance

The World Health Organization says it has confirmed 18 attacks on medical facilities since the Russian invasion began two weeks ago.

By Associated Press

Russia’s two-week-long war in Ukraine has killed thousands of people and forced more than 2 million others to flee the country, shaking the foundations of European security.

Across Ukraine, civilians trapped in besieged or destroyed areas are suffering from electricity outages and shortages of food, medicines and other vital services.

Thousands were hoping the six humanitarian corridors agreed on so far would hold during an expected daylong cease-fire in these areas Thursday — even as talks for a broad truce failed.

A Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital in the port city of Mariupol that killed three people Wednesday, including a child, has drawn outrage, with Ukrainian and Western officials branding it a war crime. During a visit to Poland, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris embraced calls for an international investigation, though she stopped short of directly accusing Russia of having committed war crimes.

“We’ll pray we can get people out of Mariupol,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia met Thursday in Turkey in their highest-level talks thus far, but it appeared little progress was made at the meeting.

Here’s a look at key things to know about the war:

In AP video of Wednesday’s airstrike on a maternity ward in Mariupol, the wounded streaming out of the hospital included women waiting to give birth, children and doctors.

Rescue workers evacuated the injured, including a pregnant woman on a stretcher. Her face was pale and she grabbed her belly before she was loaded into an ambulance. Outside the hospital, a woman holding a small child cried while a Ukrainian soldier bandaged another woman’s head.

Read  PULLING THE PLUG: Russia threatens to halt energy exports to Europe

70 buried in trench

The World Health Organization says it has confirmed 18 attacks on medical facilities since the Russian invasion began two weeks ago.

Workers in Mariupol on Wednesday also unceremoniously buried at least 70 people, some soldiers and some civilians, in a trench dug in a cemetery in the heart of the city. Some had died from the war, others of natural causes.

AP photographers and journalists documented civilians from towns northwest of the capital making their way toward Kyiv on Wednesday through a humanitarian corridor.

With sporadic gunfire echoing behind them, firefighters dragged an elderly man to safety in a wheelbarrow, a child gripped the hand of a helping soldier, and a woman inched her way along, cradling a fluffy cat inside her winter coat.

Are people being safely evacuated?

The Mariupol city council posted a video Thursday showing buses driving down a highway, saying a convoy bringing food and medicine was trying to reach the city. That convoy could be used to ferry back evacuated citizens.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed concerns about civilian casualties as “pathetic shrieks” from Russia’s enemies. He claimed without providing evidence that the Mariupol hospital had been seized by far-right radical fighters who were using it as a base — despite the fact that photos and videos of the aftermath showed pregnant women and children at the site.

What else is happening on the ground?

Russian forces have captured several cities in the Kyiv suburbs and are still trying to take Chernihiv in the north, as well as advance on the cities of Mykolaiv, Kryviy Rih, Voznesensk and Novovorontsovka in the south, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Thursday.

Read  Zelensky speaks to Lapid for first time, calls on Israel to join Russia sanctions

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 2 million people — half the residents of the Ukrainian capital’s metropolitan area — have left the city, which has become virtually a a fortress.

“Every street, every house … is being fortified,” he said in televised remarks. “Even people who in their lives never intended to change their clothes, now they are in uniform with machine guns in their hands.”

Civilian authorities reported Russian bombing overnight in the suburbs of Kyiv, and two other cities, as well as artillery fire on Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, in the east.

Russia has deployed more than 150,000 troops and retains large and possibly decisive advantages in firepower, despite facing fierce Ukrainian resistance and global financial pressure aimed at crippling its economy.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk pleaded with the Russian military to allow access for repair crews to restore electricity to the Chernobyl nuclear plant, and to fix a damaged gas pipeline that has cut off heat from Mariupol and other towns in the south.

What defensive assistance is Ukraine getting?

European nations have sent weapons to Ukraine’s military. Furthermore, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday night that would rush $13.6 billion in American aid to Ukraine and its European allies, nearly half of that for sending troops and weapons to Eastern Europe and equipping allied forces there.

The bill is expected to pass through the Senate as well in the coming days.

NATO and Washington, however, have rejected the idea of a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine to suppress Russia’s Air Force as an unnecessary risk of escalation. The Pentagon also slammed the door on a Polish proposal for providing Ukraine with fighter jets.

Read  Ukraine warns Jewish pilgrims: Russia could send missiles to hit you, don’t come

The Ukrainian government says about 20,000 foreigners have joined the so-called the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine, where they are given weapons to fight when they arrive.

Several thousand U.S. citizens have requested to join the war in Ukraine, but there is concern among independent security experts that the fighting could also draw more white supremacists, who are believed to be fighting on both sides of the conflict.

What’s the view from inside Russia?

Scattered protests against the war continue in the country, but people in Russia are losing sources of information about what is happening.

The UK announced asset freezes and a ban on travel to the U.K. on seven wealthy Russians, including Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who was trying to sell the Premier League club in anticipation of sanctions.

The list of companies halting operations in Russia grew Thursday to include German fashion brand Hugo Boss, which has temporarily closed its stores, and the U.S.-based Hilton hotel chain, which is closing its corporate office in Moscow and suspending new hotel development in Russia. Hilton’s 26 hotels in Russia, which remain open, are owned and operated by franchisees.

Goldman Sachs said it would close its operations in Russia entirely, making it the first major Wall Street bank to do so since Russia invaded Ukraine. Goldman’s announcement came after Citigroup said Wednesday that it would start winding down its Russia operations, but that the process would likely take more time since Citi operates a consumer banking and business banking division in the country.