Officials in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol alleged Wednesday that Russian forces bombed a children’s hospital and a maternity ward, prompting more calls from Kyiv’s government to enforce a no-fly zone.
“The Russian occupying forces have dropped several bombs on the children’s hospital. The destruction is colossal,” the city council of Mariupol said on social media, adding that a maternity ward was hit. It’s not clear if there were any casualties.
The claim that Russia attacked the hospital could not be independently verified by The Epoch Times. Previously, Russia has denied targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure as part of its campaign in Ukraine.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Russian officials have not issued any public responses to Ukraine’s claims.
Top-level officials in Kyiv’s government, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, accused Russia of carrying out the attack on the hospital.
“Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?”
Zelensky then criticized NATO for not trying to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which Western officials say would lead to an escalation in the conflict.
“Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity,” he added in his Twitter post.
Earlier in March, White House officials and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said there are no plans to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Stoltenberg said such a policy would have to be enforced by NATO jets shooting down Russian airplanes, which would likely lead to a wider conflict in Europe.
Capturing Mariupol, which is located in the Donbas region, would allow Russia to establish a military corridor between the Crimean Peninsula and the Lugansk and Donbass separatist areas in the Donbass.
Both sides have accused each other of violating ceasefires that would allow evacuating Mariupol, which Russian forces have kept under siege for more than a week. On Tuesday, the Red Cross called conditions inside the city “apocalyptic,” with residents sheltering underground from relentless bombardment, with no access to food, water, power, or heat.
More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion nearly two weeks ago, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.
Russia said that the invasion is a military operation designed to disarm its neighbor. On Wednesday morning, Russia’s Ministry of Defense alleged it found Ukrainian government plans to attack the Donetsk and Lugansk separatist regions in March.
The Epoch Times has contacted Russia’s U.S. Embassy office in Washington for comment.
Reuters contributed to this report.