Volodimir Zelensky, President of Ukraine, sent a dramatic message after the bombing by the Russian army of a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol, which it described as “genocide”.
“Today is the day that defines everything. It defines who is on which side,” he said, according to local media The Independent of Kiev.
“What kind of country is Russia if it is afraid of hospitals and maternity homes and destroys them?” added the president.
Then he wondered: “Were there little nationalists there? Pregnant women were going to fire missiles at Rostov? Did someone in that maternity hospital offend Russian-speaking people?”
Ukraine’s emergency services transport a pregnant woman after the attack on the Mariupol maternity hospital in Ukraine. Photo: AP
“So far 17 people are injured. Rescuers are still going through the rubble,” Zelensky said.
The president spoke directly to the European countries that support Ukraine but do not participate in the war, to which for days he has been demanding concrete actions and the closure of airspace to stop the bombings by Vladimir Putin’s forces.
In that sense, he stated that the attack on Mariupol was a turning point in the conflict, which has been going on for two weeks. “Throwing a bomb into a maternity hospital is the ultimate test that what is happening is a genocide of ukrainians“.
The bodies of the victims are thrown into a mass grave in Mariupol. President Zelensky spoke of a “Ukrainian genocide.” Photo: AP
“Europeans, you can’t say you didn’t see what’s going on. You have to tighten sanctions until Russia can’t continue its savage war,” he claimed.
Lastly, he was very critical of his peers in the West: “Together, we need give back some western leaders their courageto do what they should have done on the first day of this invasion: shut down the Ukrainian sky or give us fighter jets to do it ourselves.”
What’s more. Through his own Twitter account, Zelenski said that he had a conversation with his British peer, Boris Johnson.
“We discussed increased sanctions pressure on Russia, more support for Ukraine in the fight against the aggressor, including defense assistance. We appreciate the leadership in the fight against crime that Russia is committing on our land,” he wrote.
The bombing of motherhood
At least 17 adults were injured on Wednesday in the Russian bombardment of a pediatric hospital in Mariupol, a port in southeastern Ukraine, regional official Pavlo Kirilenko announced.
“There are 17 confirmed injuries among the hospital staff,” Kirilenko told Ukrainian television, adding that according to the first reports “there were no children” among the injured, as well as no deaths, reports the AFP agency.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky had earlier posted a video on Twitter showing the extent of the destruction at the medical complex.
The attack “literally destroyed” a maternity hospital in the city center that also included a pediatric unit, Kirilenko, the leader of the southern Donetsk region, said on Facebook.
He added that a Russian pilot evidently knew where the bomb would fall.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, without denying the attack, that Ukrainian “nationalist battalions” had evacuated staff and patients and deployed firing positions at the site.
Zelensky condemned the attack, calling it an “atrocity”. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denounced the incident.
“There are few things more immoral than targeting the vulnerable and defenseless,” Johnson tweeted.
“It’s appalling to see barbarian use of military force against innocent civilians,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki at a press conference.
Mariupol, on the coast of the Sea of Azov, is surrounded by Russian forces, who shelled the city despite promises of a ceasefire to allow civilians to evacuate.
Videos released by Kirilenko and city authorities show the moment of evacuation from the hospital, with one woman on a stretcher and another helped by two men as she leaves the building.
The footage also shows a huge hole in the hospital courtyard, tree branches torn off and vehicles on fire.