Russia’s military bombed an art school that was sheltering 400 people in Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. It marked the second time in less than a week that Russian forces have hit buildings in Mariupol that civilians were using for shelter after a bomb hit a theater on Wednesday in which more than 1,000 people were believed to be hiding. There was no immediate word on casualties in the strategic port city that has been absolutely devastated by Russian attacks as officials warn that food and water are running low and constant street battles have kept humanitarian convoys at bay. “The city continues to be shelled both from the sky and the sea,” Petro Andrushenko, an adviser to the city’s mayor, wrote on Telegram. “It seems the occupiers are so eager to wipe out Mariupol that they are ready to cover themselves with fire.”
There is increasingly nowhere for civilians in Mariupol to go as Russian forces are present in all of its neighborhoods. The battle for the city now involves “house-to-house guerrilla warfare,” reports the Washington Post. The city is also being targeted by Russian gunships. Civilians who are managing to escape are painting a picture of a city that has descended into horror. “There is no city anymore,” one person said as she arrived in Lviv. Officials estimate that some 10 percent of the city’s population of 430,000 have risked their lives to escape over the past week while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s siege of Mariupol was “a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come.”
Amid the tales of the horrific situation in Mariupol, local officials say thousands of residents are being forcibly taken across the border into Russia. “Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents were deported onto the Russian territory,” Mariupol’s city council said. Local officials are comparing the actions of Russian troops to the Nazis. “What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said. The captured residents are being taken to “filtration camps,” and then sent to remote Russian cities, local officials said.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, expressed horror at the reports even as she acknowledged they have not been independently verified. “I’ve only heard it. I can’t confirm it,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN. “But I can say it is disturbing. It is unconscionable for Russia to force Ukrainian citizens into Russia and put them in what will basically be concentration and prisoner camps.”
As the fighting continues with Russian forces seemingly unable to take full control of major Ukrainian cities, analysts largely agree that the war is reaching a bloody stalemate. The initial plan to quickly take control of Kyiv and other major cities seems to have failed and now it’s likely that more attacks will target civilian positions. Britain’s defense intelligence agency warned it expects there will be more “indiscriminate shelling of urban areas resulting in widespread destruction and large numbers of civilian casualties.”