Russia Bombed Mariupol School Sheltering 400, Council Says

Russia Bombed Mariupol School Sheltering 400, Council Says

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8 hr 45 min agoRussian forces bomb school sheltering 400 people in Mariupol, city council saysFrom CNN’s Yulia Kesaieva and Andrew Carey in Lviv

An art school being used as a shelter in the besieged city of Mariupol has been bombed by Russian forces, according to Mariupol city council in a statement on its Telegram channel.

About 400 people were sheltering in the building, which was destroyed in the attack, the council said.

Information on casualties is still unclear but people remain trapped under the rubble.

It is still not clear how many people survived an attack on a theater in the city on Wednesday.

A satellite image released Saturday showed two thirds of the building – also being used as a shelter – had been completely destroyed. The theater was clearly marked with the word “children” in large Russian writing visible from the air. Estimates of how many people were inside at the time of the attack range from 800 to 1,300.

8 hr 18 min agoRussia will continue heavy firepower to support urban assaults, says UK defense ministryFrom CNN’s Wayne Chang

Damaged buildings in Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 19. (Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Russia will continue to use heavy firepower to support urban ground assaults, the UK Ministry of Defence said Sunday in its latest intelligence assessment.

In the past week, Russia increased its indiscriminate shelling of urban areas as its army made limited progress in capturing cities in eastern Ukraine, the assessment said.

“It is likely Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower to support assaults on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses, at the cost of further civilian casualties,” the ministry said. The indiscriminate shelling of residential areas has resulted in “widespread destruction and large numbers of civilian casualties,” the ministry added.  

9 hr 21 min agoAustralia announces new humanitarian visa scheme for UkrainiansFrom CNN’s Isaac Yee

Australia on Sunday announced it will make a temporary humanitarian visa available to all Ukrainian temporary visa holders currently in Australia and those who arrive in the coming months.

The visa scheme will allow people to work and access government support including Medicare for three years, according to Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke.

The Australian government said it will work with the Ukrainian-Australian community to ensure appropriate permanent visa options are made available to this cohort “at an appropriate time.”

Since Feb. 23, Australia has granted around 5,000 mostly temporary visas to Ukrainians, of which around 750 have arrived in the country. 

9 hr 38 min agoWhat we know about the desperate situation in MariupolResidents leave the city of Mariupol on March 18. The city has been a site of intense fighting in recent weeks. (Alexey Kudenko/Sputnik/AP)The south eastern city of Mariupol has been under siege for several weeks, with residents facing a constant barrage of deadly unprovoked Russian attacks. These have included deadly strikes on a maternity ward and the bombing of a theater, the losses from which are still unknown as the rescue operation continues.

Here’s what we know about the situation in the besieged city:

Taken against their will: Residents of Mariupol are being taken to Russia against their will by Russian forces, the Mariupol City Council said Saturday. Captured Mariupol residents were forcibly taken to camps where Russian forces checked their phones and documents, then redirected some of the residents to remote cities in Russia, the council said.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko compared Russia’s actions to “horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people.”

Constant bombardment: A Ukrainian army commander told CNN people in Mariupol risk their lives each time they emerge from underground bunkers, and claimed the strategic port is facing the most intense fighting anywhere in the country. Major Denis Prokopenko, from the National Guard Azov Regiment, said air and land attacks on the city were now almost relentless.

Bodies in the street: Prokopenko said people in the city were reluctant to leave their underground shelters even to get hold of essentials, meaning they were trying to drink less water and eat less food, only emerging to prepare hot meals. Basic services like gas, electricity and water, are all out in the city. Bodies are being left in the street because there is either no one left to collect them, or it is simply too dangerous to try.

Theater attack: A new satellite image shows the Mariupol theater, which was bombed several days ago, almost completely destroyed, with just the western façade still standing. Still clearly visible in the photo is the Russian word for “children” painted by sheltering residents in large letters on the ground in front of the entrance. Hundreds of Ukrainians, including many children, were taking shelter inside the theater when it was attacked. Communications in the besieged city have been difficult for days and rescue work has been hampered by the danger of near-continuous shelling, according to reports from inside the city.

Zelensky: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the sustained Russian attack on Mariupol is an “act of terror” that will be “remembered for centuries.” In a video message posted to Facebook early Sunday, the Ukrainian President said Mariupol will go down in history as an example of war crimes.

Steel plant: There are conflicting reports over the status of one of Ukraine’s key industrial facilities – the Azov Steel plant in Mariupol. Late Friday, a government advisor reported the plant was in Russian hands after ongoing battles with Ukrainian troops. But in an update Saturday, the Azov battalion, which has a large presence in Mariupol, said the plant remained in their hands.  

Read more here.

10 hr 59 min agoChina on the “right side of history” with Ukraine, foreign minister claimsFrom CNN’s Isaac Yee

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. (Greg Baker/Pool/Getty Images)China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday said “time will prove that China’s position is on the right side of history” over the Ukraine war.

“China will continue to make independent judgments based on the merits of the matter and in an objective and fair attitude. We will never accept any external coercion and pressure, and we also oppose any groundless accusations and suspicions against China,” Wang Yi told reporters, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Wang said “the long-term solution is to abandon the Cold War mentality, refrain from engaging in group confrontation, and truly form a balanced, effective and sustainable regional security architecture. Only in this way can long-term stability on the European continent be achieved.”

Some context: His comments come after US President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday in an attempt to dissuade China from assisting Russia in its war on Ukraine.

“China has to make a decision for themselves on where they want to stand and how they wa

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