MARIUPOL, UKRAINE (AP) – An airstrike on a hospital in the port of Mariupol killed three people, including a child, the city council said yesterday, and Russian forces intensified their siege of Ukrainian cities, even as the top diplomats from both sides met for the first time since the war began.
The attack a day earlier in the besieged southern city wounded 17 people, including women waiting to give birth, doctors and children buried in the rubble. Bombs also fell on two hospitals in another city west of the capital, Kyiv.
The World Health Organization said it has confirmed 18 attacks on medical facilities since the Russian invasion began two weeks ago.
As the war entered its third week, Western officials said Russian forces have made little progress on the ground in recent days, but they have intensified the bombardment of Mariupol and other cities, trapping hundreds of thousands of people, with food and water running short. Temporary cease-fires to allow evacuations have often faltered, with Ukraine accusing Russia of continuing their bombardments. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 35,000 people managed to get out on Wednesday from several besieged towns.
The Mariupol city council posted a video yesterday showing buses driving down a highway, with a note saying that a convoy bringing food and medicine was on the way despite several days of thwarted efforts to reach the city.
Images from the city, where hundreds have died and some victims have been buried in a mass grave, have drawn condemnation from around the world. Britain called the attack on a children’s hospital a war crime. Two other hospitals were also hit in Zhytomyr, a city west of Kyiv, Mayor Serhii Sukhomlyn said on Facebook. He said there were no injuries.
“Everyone is working to get help to the people of Mariupol. And it will come,” said Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko.
On the western edge of Kyiv, artillery fire could be heard, Deputy Interior Minister Vadym Denysenko said. He told Ukrainian TV channel Rada that residents had a “rather difficult” night on the outskirts of the capital in which Russian forces started by targetting military sites but then hit residential areas.
Meanwhile, the sides held their highest-level talks so far yesterday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped the meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a Turkish Mediterranean resort “will open the door to a permanent cease-fire”.
Kuleba said the two sides discussed a 24-hour cease-fire but did not make progress. He said Russia was still seeking “a surrender from Ukraine”.
“This is not what they are going to get,” he said, adding that he was willing to continue the dialogue.