Sunday, March 20, 2022

Ukraine Blasts Kremlin for Bombing Civilians, Alleged Forced Removal of Ukrainians to Russia

Russia can't win on the battlefield, so Putin will level the cities and terrorize the civilian population, attempting to demoralize Kyiv and force a negotiated win at the bargaining table.

Putin will never go before the Hague. He's kill himself first. 

At the Los Angeles Times, "Ukraine accuses Russia of bombing shelter, deporting citizens":

LVIV, Ukraine — Amid a growing consensus that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is morphing into a bloody stalemate that could last months, Ukrainian officials on Sunday blamed the Kremlin for a new spate of deadly attacks on civilian targets, including the bombing of an art school in the embattled port city of Mariupol where hundreds had taken shelter. Ukrainian officials also accused Russian forces of seizing several thousand Mariupol residents and deporting them against their will to “remote cities in Russia.”

Ukraine’s human rights spokesperson, Lyudmyla Denisova, said on Telegram that residents were being transported across the border to a Russian city about 60 miles from Mariupol and then sent by train farther into the Russian interior.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko likened the alleged deportations to the expulsion and slaughter of millions of Jews by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, a theme also evoked Sunday by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a virtual address to lawmakers in Israel. “What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II,” Boychenko said.

The reports of forced removals could not be independently verified given that few journalists or humanitarian aid workers have been able to enter Mariupol, where machine-gun battles rage daily between Russian forces and Ukrainian defenders. The Kremlin has not responded to the allegations, although Russian state media reported that buses filled with what they described as refugees have been arriving from Ukraine in recent days.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN on Sunday that she could not confirm the reports but added it would be “unconscionable for Russia to force Ukrainian citizens into Russia and put them in what will basically be concentration and prisoner camps.”

Mariupol, a strategic city of some 400,000 on the Sea of Azov, has become a vivid symbol of the devastation wrought by the unprovoked invasion, with massive craters opened by bombs and artillery shells and 90% of the city’s buildings reportedly damaged or destroyed.

The apparent bombing early Sunday of Art School Number 12, where some 400 people were said to be sheltering, follows a similar bombing Wednesday of a large Mariupol theater where more than 1,000 people were apparently hiding.

As in the attack on the theater, officials said there appeared to be people trapped under the debris at the school. “It is known that the building was demolished and there are still peaceful people under the rubble,” the Mariupol city council said on Telegram.

Zelensky said Sunday that Moscow’s relentless assault on the city “will go down in history” as a war crime.

“The terror the occupiers did to the peaceful city will be remembered for centuries to come,” Zelensky said in his daily address, marking the 25th day since Russia invaded Ukraine. “And the more Ukrainians tell the world about it, the more support we find.”

Despite reports of widespread destruction in Mariupol, there were growing signs that Moscow’s apparent hopes for a quick war and rapid Ukrainian capitulation have faded against unexpectedly fierce resistance and what many call miscalculations and missteps by Russian military planners.

In a new assessment of the war in Ukraine, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said that the protracted siege on Mariupol, while devastating, “is costing the Russian military time, initiative, and combat power.”

It said Russia’s failures to quickly seize control of Kyiv and other major cities have created the conditions for a “bloody stalemate that could last for weeks or months.” The U.K. Ministry of Defense has issued a similar appraisal, saying Russia, after failing to win control of Ukraine’s skies, has adopted a “strategy of attrition” aimed at wearing down Ukrainian forces to the point of collapse. The agency predicted an increase in Russia’s “indiscriminate use of firepower” and warned of civilian casualties, the destruction of key Ukrainian infrastructure and a growing humanitarian crisis.

At least 847 civilians have been killed in the war, the United Nations says, although it warns the real toll may be much higher given that many parts of the country remain inaccessible.

At least 6.5 million people have been internally displaced, according to U.N., and more than 3.3 million people have fled Ukraine...