Putins troops in fresh hospital horror as 400 innocents cower from shooting, Ukraine says

Ukraine: Russian forces bomb mosque in Mariupol

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Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video address that Russian forces were in control of the hospital which they captured on Tuesday in Mariupol. She said that 400 staff and patients were being held hostage there. Express.co.uk has been unable to verify the claim, which comes days after a woman and baby are believed to have died in a Mariupol hospital bombing from Russian forces.

Regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, tweeted: “Russian occupiers took doctors and patients hostage. One of the hospital employees managed to pass such information.”

He quoted a contact as saying: “It is impossible to get out of the hospital. They shoot hard, we sit in the basement.

“Cars have not been able to drive to the hospital for two days. High-rise buildings are burning around.

“The Russians drove 400 people from neighbouring houses to our hospital. We can’t leave.”

Russian forces have bombarded Mariupol for the past two weeks. It is a key city on the Azov Sea coast which Moscow must gain control of in order to push further west.

Ukrainian officials estimate more than 2,500 residents have been killed in the fighting and at least 200,000 are in urgent need of evacuation.

The Ukrainian interior ministry said on Wednesday that about 20,000 people have managed to escape in private cars, but hundreds of thousands remain trapped by Russian shelling, many without heating, power or running water.

Ms Vereshchuk said a supply convoy for Mariupol was stuck at nearby Berdyansk on Tuesday.

Civilians in at least 4,000 cars left the port via a designated route which runs west for more than 160 miles to the city of Zaporizhzhia.

A senior Ukrainian official said it was an “open question” whether a “humanitarian corridor” would be opened on Wednesday to evacuate more civilians.

Mr Kyrylenko said: “The Russian villains have suffered little destruction – now they have made people hostages.”

He appealed to international human rights organisations to respond to “these vicious violations of the norms and customs of war, to these egregious crimes against humanity”.

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The Ukrainian foreign ministry previously said a pregnant woman photographed being evacuated from a maternity hospital in Mariupol bombed by Russia last week has since died along with her unborn baby. It has not been possible to verify this.

Meanwhile, Russian air strikes and shelling smashed into buildings in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Tuesday as invading forces tightened their grip on the city.

At least five people were killed with buildings ablaze and people buried under rubble.

Peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations via a video link resumed on Tuesday, March 15.

Ukrainian officials have played up hopes the war could end sooner than expected, saying Moscow may be coming to terms with its failure to impose a new government on Kyiv by force.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Kyiv was prepared to accept security guarantees that stop short of its long-term objective of membership of the NATO alliance, which Moscow opposes.

However, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, March 16, that the precursor to any successful peace talks has to be a ceasefire and Putin withdrawing his troops from Ukraine.

She said: “It’s very, very difficult for the Ukrainians to negotiate with a gun against their heads and I am very, very concerned that Putin is playing a smoke and mirrors game of trying to claim that he is seeking peace whilst at the same time continuing with this appalling war that he instigated and is not making the progress he thought he would.”

Ms Truss added that it was a matter for Ukraine whether or not it joined NATO as well as existing members of the military alliance.

She said: “I’ve always thought that that isn’t the real issue, that it is a smokescreen. If you look at all of Putin’s public statements… this is about recreating a greater Russia and essentially subordinating Ukraine under Russian authority as well as extending more broadly to other east European states.”

Russian forces have been halted at the gates of Kyiv and failed to capture any of Ukraine’s 10 biggest cities since Putin ordered the invasion on February 24.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and nearly three million people, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine for safety in neighbouring countries.

In Donetsk, held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014, at least 21 people were killed and 28 wounded by what Moscow said was a Ukrainian missile equipped with a cluster charge.

Ukrainian military spokesman, Leonid Matyukhin, accused Russia or its allies of carrying out the attack themselves as a pretext: “It is unmistakably a Russian rocket or another munition.”

Russia calls its invasion a “special military operation” aimed at de-nazifying its neighbour.

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