A maternity hospital in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has been attacked by Russia in a “direct strike,” Ukraine said Wednesday. “People, children are under the wreckage,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted, calling it an “atrocity.”
He shared a video showing sweeping destruction inside a facility: blown-out windows, shattered glass and scattered debris. Outside: charred cars and damaged trees. Ukrainian officials said at least 17 people were wounded in the attack, according to The Associated Press.
Ukrainian authorities warned, meanwhile, that power had been cut to the Russian-held Chernobyl nuclear power plant, risking the possible release of a “radioactive cloud” if cooling systems could not be kept on line.by the global nuclear agency.
The developments came as the US and NATO wrestled with how to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s brutal aerial assault without becoming ensnared in a potentially much wider war.
With Russian forces massed around the capital, Kyiv, “failing to make any significant breakthroughs,” according to the latest British intelligence assessment, Putin has relied on his military’s overwhelming firepower to batter Ukrainian cities from afar. Ukraine says the indiscriminate artillery barrage has killed thousands of civilians, left entire cities cut off from food, water and electricity. More than 2 million people have fled into neighboring countries in a refugee crisis that grows by the hour.
Cease-fires in a handful of major Ukrainian cities appeared to be largely holding Wednesday, allowing civilians to flee neighborhoods that have been pounded for days by Russian artillery.