Heartbreaking pictures have emerged of Ukrainian children, trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol, hiding in shelters from Russian bombs as the occupiers continued their indiscriminate bombing campaigns today.
Mariupol is one of the Ukrainian cities worst hit since the invasion began, with Russian forces bringing widespread destruction to residential and administrative centres.
And each time Russia has agreed to open ‘humanitarian corridors’ allowing citizens to flee the city, its forces have broken their ceasefire agreement and continued shelling in what appear to have been targeted attacks on innocent civilians.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said people stuck in the blockaded urban centre are beginning to suffer from a lack of supplies as the city runs dangerously low on food, water and medicine.
Ukrainian territorial defence forces have been able to deliver vital supplies to some residents, but many more remain isolated and unable to access lifesaving rations.
One six-year-old girl, named only has Tanya, has already died of thirst after she became trapped under the rubble of her destroyed home.
It is not known how long the girl had been under the ruins of her home before she died, but her mother was also found dead at the scene.
‘In the last minutes of her life she was alone, exhausted, frightened and terribly thirsty,’ Mayor Vadym Boychenko said on the city’s Telegram channel.
‘This is just one of the many stories of Mariupol, which has been surviving a blockade for eight days.’
NATO’s chief has said Russia could be deliberately targeting civilians trying to flee Ukraine after Vladimir Putin’s forces again broke a ceasefire to shell evacuation routes.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Latvia today there are ‘credible’ reports of ‘war crimes’ being committed by Russia.
The Vatican also told Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov that the killing of civilians ‘must stop’.
The remarks were made after Russia shelled evacuation corridors out of Mariupol and Sumy as desperate civilians try to flee Putin’s onslaught.
Stoltenberg said: ‘There are very creditable reports of civilians coming under fire as they try to evacuate.
‘Targeting civilians is a war crime, and it’s totally unacceptable.’
Decrying the ‘devastating’ humanitarian impact of the war, he added: ‘We need real humanitarian corridors that are fully respected.’