New bloody attacks on civilians in Russia have sparked allegations of war crimes in Ukraine on Thursday, warning that the United States will pay China in exchange for aid to the Moscow attack.
Three weeks after the devastating Russian invasion, harsh accounts of attacks on civilian targets included a school and cultural center in the town of Merefa, where a nightly artillery fire killed 21 people, authorities said.
Despite escalating massacres, international sanctions and unabashed resistance from Ukrainians, U.S. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on Thursday that he did not see Russian leader Vladimir Putin “ready to stop.”
“Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction in recent weeks, it’s hard for me to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise,” he said. responsible. ‘
Blinken was dubbing the harsh language used by President Joe Biden – a day earlier he called Putin a “criminal war” and a “dictator” and a “murderous dictator” on Thursday.
Authorities trying to count the number of people killed in a bomb blast near South Mariupol a day earlier were still speaking, with Ukrainian leader Volodymr Zelensky saying that “Russia has become a terrorist state” as evidence.
In a high-profile speech to Western parliamentarians, Zelensky told the German parliament that Moscow was building a new Cold War wall across Europe, “between freedom and slavery.”
Russia’s ongoing attacks on Mariupoli have caused a great deal of controversy.
Local officials say more than 2,000 people have been killed so far in bombings such as the strategic port of Chechnya, destroying 80 percent of their homes.
Under recent Russian bombing, rescuers were burning debris at the Drama Theater, where Ukrainian officials said more than 1,000 civilians were sheltered in a basement bomb shelter when it was bombed. Human Rights Watch estimates that there were at least 500.
Among the 30,000 civilians who have reportedly fled Mariupol so far, the evacuees said they had to melt snow to drink water and prepare leftover food on fire, cutting off water and electricity supplies.
“There are the bodies of many civilians killed on the streets,” Tamara Kavunenko, 58, told AFP after arriving in the central city of Zaporizhzhia.
“It’s no longer Mariupol,” he said. “It’s hell.”
– US warns China –
Biden and NATO have refused to take a direct part in the conflict for fear of escalating nuclear weapons with Russia, which would lead to World War III.
Instead, Biden has organized a close Western alliance against Moscow, imposing sanctions on Putin’s regime and providing military support to Ukrainian forces.
But one potentially dangerous foreign country appears: China.
Beijing has refused to condemn Moscow, and Washington fears that the Chinese will switch to financial and military aid to Russia, turning the already explosive Atlantic stop into a global conflict.
A phone call between Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is scheduled for Friday, and Blinken said his leader would press Beijing to help end the war instead of helping his authoritarian ally.
Biden “will make it clear that China will take responsibility for its actions in support of Russia’s attack, and we will not hesitate to impose costs,” Blinken said.
The broader economic consequences of the war could reduce global growth by “more than one percent” in the next 12 months, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said.
But Russia’s finance ministry said on Thursday it had made interest payments of $ 117.2 million in exchange for two foreign bonds, preventing it from being repaid for the time being.
– ‘Hold this wall’ –
As peace talks stalled, Kiev officials said Russia had agreed to nine humanitarian corridors to escape refugees on Thursday, including one evacuated from Mariupol.
But Blinken said Moscow was not honest and said: “I have not seen any significant effort by Russia to end this ongoing war through diplomacy.”
The death toll is rising, and as Russian forces tighten their grip on Kyiv, Zelensky continued to make increasingly desperate demands for more help, especially in favor of military hardware and a no-fly zone.
He has been giving passionate speeches to parliamentarians in Western nations, each remembering the most moving moments of his or her own new history.
This time, in front of the German parliament, US President Ronald Reagan delivered a speech in Berlin in 1987: “Dear Mr. Scholz, tear down this wall,” he prayed to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“It’s not the Berlin Wall, it’s the Central European wall between freedom and slavery, and this wall is growing with each bomb.”
In a nightly video message, Zelensky called on the Russians to lay down their arms directly.
“If your war, the war against the Ukrainian people, continues, Russian mothers will lose more children than they did in the wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya,” he said.
– ‘It’s Hell’ –
The Ukrainian leader was speaking almost from Kiev, with Russian troops still trying to surround him in a slow attack.
New clashes erupted on the outskirts of the city when Ukrainian and Russian forces exchanged shells and rockets in the northwest, AFP reporters observed.
Civilians rushed for cover when a grenade set fire to a building next to a warehouse, across the street from a mall with a multiplex cinema.
Inside the parking lot of the warehouse, a Ukrainian soldier with a rifle was bent over and ran while the gunmen fired.
A man carried a wrong child in his arms to a nearby house, and at least five ambulances went to the scene.
In Odessa, on the Black Sea, civilians were preparing to attack, with tanks and monuments at the crossroads covered in sandbags.
“Our beautiful Odessa,” said Lyudmila, the elegant old woman who wore bright lipsticks as she looked apologetically at the empty streets and barricades of her city.
“But thank God we’re holding on! Everyone is holding on!”
And in other places, civilians in bomb shelters did what they could to help them forget the war that was raging outside, even for a while.
From the Kharkiv shelter in Ukraine’s second city, Vera Lytovchenko has become a sensation on social media with her violin performances and used her attention to launch a fundraiser.
“I want to help people who have lost their home, work, lost instruments and music teachers,” the soloist said.
“I don’t want to feel helpless,” he said.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically created from a union feed.)