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In a carpark strewn with broken glass, a man huddles over a bloodstained sheet – weeping. Underneath it is the body of his mother, killed in a Russian airstrike. Behind him, three people help an elderly lady on to the pavement. They don’t look over.

This is Kyiv, on the 21st day of Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine.

With the Russian army fought to a standstill on all fronts, Moscow’s generals are relying on the indiscriminate shelling of major cities to project and image of strength which is slaughtering innocents in the process. 

One missile, fired at the capital early Thursday, was shot down by Ukrainian air defences. That likely prevented further carnage. but could not stop pieces of the rocket slamming into an apartment block – killing the man’s mother and wounding dozens of others.

It came as the city, which has now been under bombardment for days, emerged from a 36-hour curfew. Fighting continues in the outskirts to the east and northwest as Russian troops try and fail to push inwards. 

A man weeps over the body of his mother, killed as the wreckage of a Russian missile slammed into her apartment block in Kyiv in the early hours

A man weeps over the body of his mother, killed as the wreckage of a Russian missile slammed into her apartment block in Kyiv in the early hours

A man weeps over the body of his mother, killed as the wreckage of a Russian missile slammed into her apartment block in Kyiv in the early hours

Putin's forces are now relying on long-distance strikes to sow mayhem and bloodshed after Ukraine's troops fought them to a standstill on all fronts

Putin's forces are now relying on long-distance strikes to sow mayhem and bloodshed after Ukraine's troops fought them to a standstill on all fronts

Putin’s forces are now relying on long-distance strikes to sow mayhem and bloodshed after Ukraine’s troops fought them to a standstill on all fronts

Relatives of a woman killed by a Russian missile strike on an apartment block in Kyiv embrace, as the civilian death toll from Putin's invasion mounts

Relatives of a woman killed by a Russian missile strike on an apartment block in Kyiv embrace, as the civilian death toll from Putin's invasion mounts

Relatives of a woman killed by a Russian missile strike on an apartment block in Kyiv embrace, as the civilian death toll from Putin’s invasion mounts

It is attacks such as this one that led President Joe Biden to last night brand Putin a ‘war criminal’ – rhetoric the Kremlin said was ‘unacceptable and unforgivable’.

Estimates of the civilian death toll are hard to come by. The UN had confirmed the deaths of 726 people, 52 of them children, by Tuesday this week – though caveats the figure by saying the true toll is likely far higher. 

Ukraine says thousands have died but has not regularly updated that figure. Officials in badly-hit Mariupol, where a maternity hospital was bombed last week say 2,400 people have been killed in that city alone. 

Moscow denies killing any civilians. Maria Zakharova, foreign ministry spokeswoman, said today that: ‘Russia’s armed forces don’t bomb towns and cities.’

Asked about the bombing of the maternity unit, which killed at least one heavily pregnant woman along with her unborn child, she called it a ‘lie’.

Just yesterday, another civilian target in Mariupol was struck – a theatre which was being used to shelter up to 1,200 civilians from the bombing.

The building had large signs, etched into the ground out the front and back, which read – in Russian – ‘kids’. A Russian airstrike completely destroyed it.

Evacuations were underway at the site this morning, with officials saying a bomb shelter located there had survived the blast – though it was unclear how many people were inside, with some ‘trapped’.

Ukrainian MP Sergiy Taruta, a former governor of the Donetsk region where Mariupol is located, later said that some people had managed to escape alive from the destroyed building.

The ceiling of an apartment is completely collapsed in the tower block which was hit by the remains of a Russian missile shot down over Kyiv

The ceiling of an apartment is completely collapsed in the tower block which was hit by the remains of a Russian missile shot down over Kyiv

The ceiling of an apartment is completely collapsed in the tower block which was hit by the remains of a Russian missile shot down over Kyiv

Vladimir Galinkov packs his belongings to evacuate his damaged apartment after the building was hit by pieces of a destroyed Russian missile

Vladimir Galinkov packs his belongings to evacuate his damaged apartment after the building was hit by pieces of a destroyed Russian missile

Vladimir Galinkov packs his belongings to evacuate his damaged apartment after the building was hit by pieces of a destroyed Russian missile

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration where Mariupol is located, said Russian air strikes also hit a municipal swimming pool complex

Civilians, including women and children, had been sheltering inside, he said.

‘Now there are pregnant women and women with children under the rubble there,’ he added, though the number of casualties was not immediately known.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for more help for his country in a video address to German legislators on Thursday, saying thousands of people have been killed in the war that started almost a month ago, including 108 children.

He also referred to the dire situation in Mariupol.

‘Everything is a target for them,’ he said, including ‘a theatre where hundreds of people found shelter that was flattened yesterday’.

Mr Zelensky’s office said Russia carried out further air strikes on Mariupol early on Thursday morning, as well as artillery and air strikes around the country overnight, including in the Kalynivka and Brovary suburbs of the capital Kyiv.

In Kyiv, where residents have been huddling in homes and shelters, a fire broke out in an apartment building hit by remnants of a downed Russian rocket early on Thursday, killing one person and injuring at least three others, according to emergency services.

Firefighters evacuated 30 people from the top floors of the 16-storey building and extinguished the blaze within an hour.

On Thursday, Russian artillery destroyed a school and a community centre in Merefa, a city near the north-east city of Kharkiv, according to Merefa mayor Veniamin Sitov.

There were no known civilian casualties.

The Kharkiv region has seen heavy bombardment as stalled Russian forces try to advance in the area.

Serhii, father of teenager Iliya, cries over his son's lifeless body lying on a stretcher at a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward in Mariupol on March 2

Serhii, father of teenager Iliya, cries over his son's lifeless body lying on a stretcher at a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward in Mariupol on March 2

Serhii, father of teenager Iliya, cries over his son’s lifeless body lying on a stretcher at a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward in Mariupol on March 2

Firefighters carry away the body of a civilian who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in Kyiv on Tuesday

Firefighters carry away the body of a civilian who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in Kyiv on Tuesday

Firefighters carry away the body of a civilian who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in Kyiv on Tuesday

Six nations have called for a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Thursday afternoon, ahead of an expected Friday vote on a resolution demanding protection for Ukrainian civilians ‘in vulnerable situations’.

‘Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians,’ Britain’s UN Mission tweeted, announcing the call for the meeting that was joined by the US, France and others.

‘Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine is a threat to us all.’ 

Despite the attacks on civilians, peace talks between the two sides have been ongoing amid signs of progress – with both sides saying ‘progress’ is being made.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said a neutral military status for Ukraine was being ‘seriously discussed’ by the two sides, while Mr Zelensky said Russia’s demands for ending the war were becoming ‘more realistic’.

Wednesday’s talks, held by video, appeared to wade more deeply into technicalities.

Mr Zelensky’s adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said Ukraine demanded a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees for Ukraine from several countries.

‘This is possible only through direct dialogue’ between Mr Zelensky and Mr Putin, he tweeted.

An official in Mr Zelensky’s office told The Associated Press that the main subject under discussion was whether Russian troops would remain in separatist regions in eastern Ukraine after the war and where the borders would be.

The official said Ukraine was insisting on the inclusion of one or more Western nuclear powers in the negotiations and on a legally binding document with security guarantees for Ukraine.

In exchange, the official said, Ukraine was ready to discuss a neutral status.

Russia has demanded that Nato pledge never to admit Ukraine to the alliance or station forces there. 

Troops from the Ukrainian territorial defence carry the body of a civilian away from a tower block that was shot with a Russian missile in Kyiv

Troops from the Ukrainian territorial defence carry the body of a civilian away from a tower block that was shot with a Russian missile in Kyiv

Troops from the Ukrainian territorial defence carry the body of a civilian away from a tower block that was shot with a Russian missile in Kyiv

Source: dailymail

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