A Russian airstrike targeting the Ukrainian city of Mariupol killed 300 people last week, including women, children and the elderly, according to Ukrainian authorities. Officials said the strike is the deadliest attack on Ukrainian civilians since the conflict began more than a month ago.
A statement posted by the Mariupol City Council on Telegram explained that the word Russian word for “CHILDREN” had been displayed in giant lettering on the ground outside the Drama Theater of Mariupol in an attempt to deter Russian forces from attacking the building that was being used as a civilian shelter.
“The occupier knew where he was hitting. He knew what the consequences might be, and anyway the bombs fell on the place, which became a refuge for hundreds of Mariupol residents,” the statement said, according to Google Translate. “There cannot be and never will be an explanation for this inhuman cruelty. As never will there be forgiveness for those who brought devastation, pain and suffering to our home.”
The council described the theater as a “hallmark of the city” that was “in the heart of Mariupol.”
“A place of meetings, dates, a point of reference. ‘Where are you? I’m on Drama.’ How many times have we heard or said this phrase: ‘on Drama,'” the statement continued. “Now there is no more Drama. In its place, a new point of pain for Mariupol residents appeared, ruins that became the last refuge for hundreds of innocent people.”
“We can restore buildings, but we will never get friends, neighbors, relatives and loved ones back,” it added. “Blessed memory of all the innocent victims of the insane war waged against Ukraine by the aggressor country, the terrorist country Russia.”
President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the attack demonstrated “a brazen disregard for the lives of innocent people.”
Sullivan added that the reaction to the strike was “just absolute shock, particularly given the fact that it was so clearly a civilian target.”
One Mariupol resident told The Associated Press that she and her child were just “trying to survive somehow.”
“My child is hungry. I don’t know what to give him to eat,” the woman who identified herself as Elena said, adding that she had been trying to contact her mother in another town 50 miles away.
“I can’t tell her I am alive, you understand. There is no connection, just nothing,” she said.