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Ukraine war: Russia ‘reopens’ evacuation routes out of besieged cities

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A maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been decimated in a ‘direct hit’ by Russian rockets leaving children buried in the rubble, President Zelensky has said, in what he described as an ‘atrocity.’

Zelensky posted a video showing the badly damaged hospital buildings, filmed inside a destroyed ward room with its windows blown out and ceiling partially collapsed. More footage showed a car park covered in rubble and the smouldering wrecks of vehicles as injured families evacuated into the freezing air while snow fell. 

‘Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity,’ he tweeted.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss described the hospital attack as ‘absolutely abhorrent’, but continued to reject Ukraine’s request for a no-fly zone to be imposed over its skies.

Speaking in Washington, she said: ‘The best way we can protect the skies is through anti-air weaponry which the UK is now going to be supplying to Ukraine.

‘Of course the attack on the hospital is absolutely abhorrent, reckless and appalling.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also condemned the strike as ‘depraved’ and vowed to step up support to the beleaguered Ukrainian military.

He said the UK was considering more support for Ukraine to defend itself against airstrikes and would hold President Vladimir Putin to account ‘for his terrible crimes’.

‘There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless,’ the Prime Minister declared. 

Earlier Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the MPs that the Ministry of Defence was looking at whether they could supply anti-aircraft missiles as well as more anti-tank weapons, while other Western officials expresed concern that Putin could next resort to the use of ‘non-conventional weapons’ such as chemical weapons, in the conflict.

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Mariupol’s city council said the hospital had suffered ‘colossal’ damage but did not immediately give a figure of the wounded and dead. The deputy head of Mr Zelensky’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said authorities are trying to establish the number of victims.

Mariupol has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week, with food, water and electricity cut off several days ago – with the Red Cross describing conditions there as ‘apocalyptic’. 

Just hours before the hospital was hit, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warned that 3,000 babies were without food or medicines and begged for a humanitarian corridor to allow them to flee. Moscow had promised a ceasefire in the city today so civilians could be evacuated, but failed for the fourth time to keep its word.

Residents of Mariupol were pictured on Wednesday dumping bodies into mass graves dug on the outskirts of the city in a desperate attempt to remove the dead amid the sustained Russian bombardment.

Meanwhile Ukrainian commanders said Russian military police had rounded up 400 activists protesting against the invasion in the occupied city of Kherson – as the long arm of Vladimir Putin’s police state reached across the border to grab people on foreign soil. 

It is not the first time that Russian airstrikes have targeted hospitals. While fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad in Syria in 2016, Putin’s generals were accused of ‘deliberately and systematically’ blowing up hospitals as a way of weakening the city of Aleppo ahead of a ground assault. 

Observers have suggested that Russia is now using a Syria-style battleplan against Ukraine after its early precision strikes failed.

The Ukrainian Healthcare Center, a think-tank based in the country, says that between the outbreak of fighting on February 24 and today, their team documented 42 cases of Russian forces attacking either healthcare facilities or medics in order to deliberately provoke a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

Hospitals had been struck in every theatre where Russian forces were operating, the think-tank said, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv.

‘The humanitarian catastrophe is a part of Russia’s hybrid war. [It] intends to spread panic, create a flow of refugees at the borders and force the Ukrainian government to surrender,’ said Pavlo Kovtonyuk, co-founder of the think-tank.

The bombing took place during what was supposed to be a ceasefire in Mariupol so that civilians could evacuate. It marks the fourth time a so-called ‘humanitarian corridor’ out of the city has failed because Russian forces opened fire. 

The mayor of Izyum, to the east of Kharkiv, said evacuations that were supposed to be underway there today also had to stop because Russians were bombing the escape route. But in Sumy, a short distance away, some civilians had managed to make it out. Successful evacuations also took place in Enerhodar, in the south, with women and children able to leave.

It is feared the evacuations are simply a precursor to Russia stepping up its bombardment of the cities to wear down dogged Ukrainian defenders before rolling in troops and tanks to capture them. CIA Director William Burns, briefing Congress on Putin’s state of mind Tuesday, warned the ‘angry and frustrated’ despot is ‘likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties.’

Giving an update on the military situation this afternoon, Ukrainian commanders said Russian units continue to try and surround the capital Kyiv with attacks taking place to the west and north-east of the city, with several highways blocked.

Fighting is also going on close to the city of Sumy in an attempt to surround Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, commanders said. Battles have also broken out around the city of Mykolaiv, in the south, as Russians attempt to push out from Kherson towards Odessa – but were turned back.  

Meanwhile at least 10 people were killed in a Russian military attack in the eastern Ukrainian town of Severodonestk on Tuesday, a local official for the Luhansk region said in a statement on Telegram.

The Russian military ‘opened fire’ on residential homes and other buildings in the town, he said, without immediately specifying whether it was an artillery attack. The region has seen heavy fighting in recent days. 

Russia’s defence ministry meanwhile acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that some conscripts had been sent to fight on the frontlines in Ukraine, just days after Putin promised that only professional soldiers would be sent in. 

Some associations of soldiers’ mothers in Russia had raised concerns about a number of conscripts going incommunicado at the start of what Kremlin calls a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, suggesting they could have been sent to fight despite a lack of adequate training. 

The revelation comes just one week after Russia’s parliament passed a law imposing a prison term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally ‘fake’ news about the military.

‘Unfortunately, we have discovered several facts of the presence of conscripts in units taking part in the special military operation in Ukraine. Practically all such soldiers have been pulled out to Russia,’ the defence ministry said, promising to prevent such situations in the future.

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol's maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol’s maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

This image taken from video provided by the Mariupol City Council shows the aftermath of Mariupol Hospital after an attack, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday March 9, 2022

This image taken from video provided by the Mariupol City Council shows the aftermath of Mariupol Hospital after an attack, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday March 9, 2022

A Russian attack severely damaged the children's hospital and maternity ward in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that there were "people, children under the wreckage" of the hospital and called the strike an "atrocity."

A Russian attack severely damaged the children’s hospital and maternity ward in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that there were ‘people, children under the wreckage’ of the hospital and called the strike an ‘atrocity.’

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A maternity hospital in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has suffered ‘colossal’ damage after a ‘direct hit’ by Russian rocket artillery that left children buried in the rubble (pictured, a badly damaged room at the hospital)

President Zelensky described the attack as an 'atrocity'

The Ukrainian President accusing world leaders of being 'accomplice to terror' by refusing to take out incoming Russian rockets

President Zelensky described the attack as an ‘atrocity’, accusing world leaders of being ‘accomplice to terror’ by refusing to take out incoming Russian rockets

The burning wreckage of a car is seen outside a destroyed children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week

The burning wreckage of a car is seen outside a destroyed children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week

A Ukrainian soldier examines a huge crater caused by one of the Russian rockets, which fell just in front of a hospital building at the maternity hospital in Mariupol 

Wounded families and patients evacuate from a badly-damaged building at the hospital. Local officials said the damage was 'colossal' and were not able to give an immediate number on the injured and dead

Wounded families and patients evacuate from a badly-damaged building at the hospital. Local officials said the damage was ‘colossal’ and were not able to give an immediate number on the injured and dead

Wounded people are seen evacuating from the hospital, with President Zelensky repeating calls for a 'no-fly' zone to protect civilians. NATO has repeatedly refused the measure

 Wounded people are seen evacuating from the hospital, with President Zelensky repeating calls for a ‘no-fly’ zone to protect civilians. NATO has repeatedly refused the measure

Ukrainian emergency employees work at the side of the maternity hospital in Mariupol after it suffered a direct hit by Russian rocket strikes on Wednesday

Ukrainian emergency employees work at the side of the maternity hospital in Mariupol after it suffered a direct hit by Russian rocket strikes on Wednesday

Mass grave in Mariupol. Photographer Mstislav Chernov writes that people cannot bury the dead properly due to the constant shelling of the city. March 9, 2022

Ukrainian citizens are pictured on the outskirts of Mariupol dropping bodies into a mass grave as the city’s inhabitants work to remove the dead amid brutal shelling from Russian troops

A baby is evacuated as people flee near a destroyed bridge to cross the Irpin River, on the outskirts of Kyiv, as Russian forces try to surround it in ahead of an attack

A baby is evacuated as people flee near a destroyed bridge to cross the Irpin River, on the outskirts of Kyiv, as Russian forces try to surround it in ahead of an attack

A man helps a woman to carry her dog across a river on the outskirts of Irpin,

A man helps a woman to carry her dog across a river on the outskirts of Irpin, 

Ukraine has rejected most Russian evacuation routes because they lead to Russian soil or that of its ally, Belarus, while routes that Ukraine has proposed have come under bombardment. The only successful evacuation to take place so far has been from Sumy to Poltava (in green)

Ukrainian servicemen evacuate a person across Irpin River below a destroyed bridge as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues

Ukrainian servicemen evacuate a person across Irpin River below a destroyed bridge as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues

New members of the Territorial Defence Forces train to operate RPG-7 anti-tank launcher during military exercises in Kyiv

New members of the Territorial Defence Forces train to operate RPG-7 anti-tank launcher during military exercises in Kyiv

Recent conscripts into the Ukrainian Territorial Defence are trained to use NLAW anti-tank launchers in Kyiv, as the city prepares to defend itself from a Russian assault

Recent conscripts into the Ukrainian Territorial Defence are trained to use NLAW anti-tank launchers in Kyiv, as the city prepares to defend itself from a Russian assault

New members of the Territorial Defence Forces are pictured on training exercises in Kyiv, as Russian troops try to surround the city in preparation for an assault

New members of the Territorial Defence Forces are pictured on training exercises in Kyiv, as Russian troops try to surround the city in preparation for an assault

A satellite image taken on Tuesday but released Wednesday shows the destroyed road bridge on the outskirts of Irpin, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which refugees have been using to flee the besieged city

A satellite image taken on Tuesday but released Wednesday shows the destroyed road bridge on the outskirts of Irpin, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which refugees have been using to flee the besieged city

A wider view of the bridge (top left) shows a long line of civilian vehicles trapped when the crossing was destroyed, along with what appear to be shell craters in nearby fields (centre and bottom right)

A wider view of the bridge (top left) shows a long line of civilian vehicles trapped when the crossing was destroyed, along with what appear to be shell craters in nearby fields (centre and bottom right)

Tracks created by Russian armoured vehicles are seen in the snow near Hostomel, on the outskirts of Kyiv, while heavily damaged buildings are seen to the right of the image

Tracks created by Russian armoured vehicles are seen in the snow near Hostomel, on the outskirts of Kyiv, while heavily damaged buildings are seen to the right of the image

Putin meets his ‘children’s rights commissioner’ in Moscow as rockets destroy kid’s hospital 

Vladimir Putin has met with his ‘children’s rights commissioner’ in Moscow at the same time as shelling a maternity hospital in Mariupol in his latest vile display of hypocrisy.

The Russian leader spoke with Maria Lvova-Belova at the Kremlin today after overseeing a savage two-week campaign in Ukraine which has seen children killed, orphaned or forced to flee their homes.

Putin held the meeting to discuss changes to the law which will allow Russians to adopt Ukrainian orphans, after his forces killed their parents.

 

The changes will mean children from Donetsk and Luhansk who do not have Russian citizenship will qualify for adoption.

Putin said in the meeting: ‘These are extraordinary circumstances and it seems to me that we need to think not about bureaucratic delays, but about the interests of children.

‘I will make proposals, we will change the legislation. We will appeal to the State Duma, I am sure that the deputies will support you.’

Lvova-Belova said 1,090 orphans have been evacuated to Russia from the two republics.

An estimated one million children have been forced to flee Ukraine since the barbaric invasion was launched.

Western officials have also warned of ‘serious concerns’ that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine.

One said: ‘I think we’ve got good reason to be concerned about possible use of non-conventional weapons, partly because of what we’ve seen has happened in other theatres.

‘As I’ve mentioned before, for example, what we’ve seen in Syria, partly because we’ve seen a bit of setting the scene for that in the false flag claims that are coming out, and other indications as well.’

Before the rocket attack took place, Mariupol’s deputy mayor spoke about the dire situation in the besieged city – saying residents had been forced to use melted snow as drinking water, as it runs dangerously low on supplies.

Serhiy Orlov admitted that he didn’t know how long the blockaded urban centre would be able to continue under siege as he spoke to CNN’s John Berman about the devastating bombings on Wednesday.

Orlov said today was their fifth attempt to provide a humanitarian corridor to get supplies and transport into Mariupol, but he added that by 3pm local time, the buses had not made it anywhere near the city. 

He said many residents are unable to leave as Mariupol is being bombed ‘each second’, after Russian forces have broken their ceasefire agreement despite agreeing to open ‘humanitarian corridors’ allowing citizens to flee.

‘There is no ceasefire, any ceasefire in Mariupol, Mariupol is under continuous shelling from the artillery and bombing. Each hour, each minute, each second,’ he added.

Mariupol, which has been under blockage for eight days, is one of the Ukrainian cities worst hit since the invasion began, with Russian forces bringing widespread destruction to residential and administrative centres.

Speaking about the devastation across the city, Orlov said Russian forces had destroyed their biggest steel planter as he warned that the situation is ‘unmanageable’.

He praised the bravery of the Ukrainian army, but warned that it is the humanitarian crisis is also worsening, adding: ‘We are not able to protect our lives.’

President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday warned that the port city was running 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.

Reiterating Zelensky’s stark warning, Orlov said there is no more electricity, heating, gas or water supplies in Mariupol, adding that residents have had to resort to collecting wood to make fires for warmth and using melted snow as drinking water.

‘It’s an awful situation and I cannot imagine in my mind that it’s possible in the 21st century, but it is true,’ he said.

When asked how long the city might be able to continue under siege, Orlov admitted he ‘didn’t know’ as he claimed there are at least 3,000 infants who are currently without food.

American talk show host Berman also asked the deputy mayor whether his own family are safe, after he previously spoken about being unable to reach his parents.

In response, a devastated Orlov said the district where his parents lived has been completely destroyed, saying it ‘does not exist anymore’, as he admitted he doesn’t know if they are alive.

He added: ‘The district where they live is flattened and I’m not sure that I can see them anymore. But I hope and pray they are alive.’

Ukrainian commanders said today that Russia’s attack on the country has ‘slowed significantly’ with no major gains in any sector while its forces were  bolstering defenses in key cities and ‘holding the line.’

In the northern city of Chernihiv, Russian forces are placing military equipment among residential buildings and on farms, the Ukrainian general staff said. And in the south, it said Russians dressed in civilian clothes are advancing on the city of Mykolaiv. It did not provide any details of new fighting.

In Kyiv, back-to-back air alerts Wednesday morning urged residents to get to bomb shelters as quickly as possible over fears of incoming Russian missiles. Soon after an all-clear was given for the first alert, a second alert followed.

Such alerts are common, though irregular, keeping people on edge. Kyiv has been relatively quiet in recent days, though Russian artillery has pounded the outskirts.

Kyiv regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said the crisis for civilians was growing in the capital, with the situation particularly critical in the city’s suburbs.

‘Russia is artificially creating a humanitarian crisis in the Kyiv region, frustrating the evacuation of people and continuing shelling and bombing small communities,’ he said.

More than 2 million people have now fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations. 

Buses transport people out of the city of Sumy, in Ukraine's north east, in the first successful evacuation of a besieged city which took place on Tuesday. In total, 5,000 people were transported out

Buses transport people out of the city of Sumy, in Ukraine’s north east, in the first successful evacuation of a besieged city which took place on Tuesday. In total, 5,000 people were transported out 

Civilians in the city of Sumy, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for days, are loaded on to an evacuation bus as they flee the front lines for Poltava - located 90 miles to the south

Civilians in the city of Sumy, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for days, are loaded on to an evacuation bus as they flee the front lines for Poltava – located 90 miles to the south

Russia said the evacuation route out of Sumy will be reopened Wednesday to allow more people to flee, though there are fears it could be a pre-cursor to heavier shelling in the coming days

Russia said the evacuation route out of Sumy will be reopened Wednesday to allow more people to flee, though there are fears it could be a pre-cursor to heavier shelling in the coming days

A large number of foreign students - including hundreds from India and east Asia - were among those allowed to flee from Sumy on Tuesday, with more transports planned for today

A large number of foreign students – including hundreds from India and east Asia – were among those allowed to flee from Sumy on Tuesday, with more transports planned for today

Two convoys of civilian vehicles were allowed to leave Sumy on Tuesday, the mayor has said, marking the first successful evacuation after other routes came under attack by Russia

Two convoys of civilian vehicles were allowed to leave Sumy on Tuesday, the mayor has said, marking the first successful evacuation after other routes came under attack by Russia

Debris is seen next to houses destroyed by shelling, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Sumy

Debris is seen next to houses destroyed by shelling, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Sumy

Debris and houses destroyed by shelling, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are seen in Sumy

Debris and houses destroyed by shelling, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are seen in Sumy

Houses damaged by shelling, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are seen in Sumy

Houses damaged by shelling, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are seen in Sumy

Houses destroyed by shelling, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are seen in Sumy

Houses destroyed by shelling, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are seen in Sumy

Debris is seen next to houses destroyed by shelling, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Sumy

Debris is seen next to houses destroyed by shelling, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Sumy

Natasha Sivek carries her two-month-old grandson Meron shortly after she and other family members, including her daughter, walked into Poland

Natasha Sivek carries her two-month-old grandson Meron shortly after she and other family members, including her daughter, walked into Poland

Women and children arrive from war-torn Ukraine on a snowy day at the Medyka border crossing

Women and children arrive from war-torn Ukraine on a snowy day at the Medyka border crossing 

A young woman with a small child makes a phone call moments after her arrival in Poland today

A young woman with a small child makes a phone call moments after her arrival in Poland today

Over one million people have arrived in Poland from Ukraine since the Russian invasion and some are journeying on to other countries in Europe

Over one million people have arrived in Poland from Ukraine since the Russian invasion and some are journeying on to other countries in Europe

Tatiana Kostyuk, 30, helps her son Jan, five, eat a sausage from a nearby aid station after crossing the border

Tatiana Kostyuk, 30, helps her son Jan, five, eat a sausage from a nearby aid station after crossing the border

Most of those fleeing the war have entered countries on Ukraine's western border, like Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova

Most of those fleeing the war have entered countries on Ukraine’s western border, like Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova

The majority have gone into Poland, where 1.33 million refugees have crossed according to the Polish Border Guard agency

The majority have gone into Poland, where 1.33 million refugees have crossed according to the Polish Border Guard agency

Polish soldiers help people, mostly women and children, board a train following their arrival into the country

Polish soldiers help people, mostly women and children, board a train following their arrival into the country

Yulia Sivek carries her two-month-old son Meron and is trailed by her mother Natasha as they walk into Poland

Yulia Sivek carries her two-month-old son Meron and is trailed by her mother Natasha as they walk into Poland

A woman eats a McDonald's after arriving into Poland and fleeing war-torn Ukraine

A woman eats a McDonald’s after arriving into Poland and fleeing war-torn Ukraine

More than one million children have fled Ukraine in the less than two weeks since Russia first invaded the country

More than one million children have fled Ukraine in the less than two weeks since Russia first invaded the country

Oxana Opalenko holds her friend Yulia's two-month-old son Meron shortly after they walked into Poland

Oxana Opalenko holds her friend Yulia’s two-month-old son Meron shortly after they walked into Poland

It came as Russia warned the West that it is working on a broad response to sanctions that would be swift and felt in the West’s most sensitive areas, after the US announced a ban on gas and oil imports – with the UK also banning Russian oil and the EU presenting a plan to wean itself off Russian gas by 2030.

‘Russia’s reaction will be swift, thoughtful and sensitive for those it addresses,’ Dmitry Birichevsky, the director of the foreign ministry’s department for economic cooperation, was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

Meanwhile China, which has been attempting to pacify both sides in the conflict, warned that moves by ‘US-led NATO’ have pushed Russia-Ukraine tensions to ‘breaking point’. 

As Moscow’s forces have laid siege to Ukrainian cities, the fighting has thwarted attempts to create corridors to safely evacuate civilians.

One evacuation did appear successful, with Ukrainian authorities saying Tuesday that 5,000 civilians, including 1,700 foreign students, had been brought out via a safe corridor from Sumy, an embattled northeastern city of a quarter-million people.

That corridor was to reopen for 12 hours on Wednesday, with the buses that brought people southwest to the city of Poltava the day before returning to pick up more refugees, regional administration chief Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said.

Priority was being given to pregnant women, women with children, the elderly and the disabled.

In the south, Russian troops have advanced deep along Ukraine’s coastline in what could establish a land bridge to Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

The city of Mariupol has been surrounded by Russian soldiers for days and a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the encircled city of 430,000.

Corpses lie in the streets of the city, which sits on the Asov Sea. Hungry people break into stores in search of food and melt snow for water. Thousands huddle in basements, trembling at the sound of Russian shells pounding this strategic port city.

‘Why shouldn’t I cry?’ Goma Janna demanded as she wept by the light of an oil lamp below ground, surrounded by women and children. ‘I want my home, I want my job. I’m so sad about people and about the city, the children.’

Tuesday brought no relief: An attempt to evacuate civilians and deliver badly needed food, water and medicine through a designated safe corridor failed, with Ukrainian officials saying Russian forces had fired on the convoy before it reached the city.

Mariupol, said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, is in a ‘catastrophic situation.’

Natalia Mudrenko, the highest-ranking woman at Ukraine’s U.N. Mission, told the Security Council that the people of Mariupol have ‘been effectively taken hostage,’ by the siege. Her voice shook with emotion as she described how a 6-year-old died shortly after her mother was killed by Russian shelling. ‘She was alone in the last moments of her life,’ she said.

Authorities in Mariupol planned to start digging mass graves for all the dead. The shelling has shattered buildings, and the city has no water, heat, working sewage systems or phone service.

Theft has become widespread for food, clothes, even furniture, with locals referring to the practice as ‘getting a discount.’ Some residents are reduced to scooping water from streams.

With the electricity out, many people are relying on their car radios for information, picking up news from stations broadcast from areas controlled by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists.

People evacuate Romanivka as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues today and millions of civilians desperately try to flee to safety

People evacuate Romanivka as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues today and millions of civilians desperately try to flee to safety

A member of the military holds a young child's hands as civilians flee the country after two weeks of sustained attacks from Russia

A member of the military holds a young child’s hands as civilians flee the country after two weeks of sustained attacks from Russia

Many fleeing have no contacts and nowhere to go, as host countries scramble to accommodate them

Many fleeing have no contacts and nowhere to go, as host countries scramble to accommodate them

Children represent around half of the more than two million people that have fled the war since the invasion was launched

Children represent around half of the more than two million people that have fled the war since the invasion was launched

People walk at the site of a destruction, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Romanivka, Ukraine today

People walk at the site of a destruction, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Romanivka, Ukraine today

So far, most refugees have gone to relatives, friends or contacts in the Ukrainian diaspora rather than to reception centres being set up by authorities

So far, most refugees have gone to relatives, friends or contacts in the Ukrainian diaspora rather than to reception centres being set up by authorities

A person lies on a stretcher while another is wheeled towards an ambulance in the distressing scenes from Ukraine

A person lies on a stretcher while another is wheeled towards an ambulance in the distressing scenes from Ukraine

The UNHCR is planning a cash programme for refugees that could help them pay rent in private accommodation

The UNHCR is planning a cash programme for refugees that could help them pay rent in private accommodation

Olya and her granddaughter Polina, from Kiev, Ukraine, stand by a tent as Ukrainian refugees cross the border

Olya and her granddaughter Polina, from Kiev, Ukraine, stand by a tent as Ukrainian refugees cross the border

Polish soldiers hold Ukrainian refugees after they crossed the border during snowfall to Medyka, Poland

Polish soldiers hold Ukrainian refugees after they crossed the border during snowfall to Medyka, Poland

Ukrainian refugees wait to board buses in Poland. Travelling by train remains free for Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainian refugees wait to board buses in Poland. Travelling by train remains free for Ukrainian refugees

Ludmila Amelkina, who was walking along an alley strewn with rubble and walls pocked by gunfire, said the destruction had been devastating.

‘We don’t have electricity, we don’t have anything to eat, we don’t have medicine. We’ve got nothing,’ she said, looking skyward.

The deputy mayor of Mariupol cast doubt on the evacuations, telling the BBC that Russian forces continued to pound areas where people were trying to gather ahead of being taken out. He said some roads were blocked, while others were mined.

‘So we cannot establish sustainable ceasefire and safety route at the moment,’ Serhiy Orlov said. ‘So we still have… a city in blockade.’

The city is without water, heat, working sewage systems or phone service. Residents have been getting water from streams or by melting snow.

Corpses lay in the streets and authorities planned to start digging mass graves.

With the electricity out, many people are relying on car radios for information, picking up news from stations broadcast from areas controlled by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists.

The fighting has caused global economic turmoil, with energy prices surging worldwide and stocks plummeting. It also threatens the food supply of millions around the globe who rely on crops farmed in the Black Sea region.

Western countries have rushed weapons to Ukraine and moved to slap Vladimir Putin’s Russia with sanctions.

In a further effort to punish Russia, US President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports, and Shell announced it will stop buying oil and gas from Russia.

Ukraine’s military said its forces continued defence operations in the Mariupol suburbs.

The military said ‘demoralised’ Russian forces were looting, commandeering civilian buildings and setting up firing positions in populated areas.

The battle for Mariupol is crucial because its capture could allow Moscow to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Late on Tuesday, Mr Zelensky released a video showing him standing near the presidential offices in Kyiv. Behind him were piles of sandbags, a snow-dusted tree and a few cars.

It was the second video in 24 hours showing him near the country’s seat of power, apparently made to dispel any doubts about whether he had fled the city.

A Russian tank with overhead armour meant to protect against American-made javelin missiles is pictured burned-out by the side of a road in Ukraine, after the makeshift protection apparently failed

A Russian tank with overhead armour meant to protect against American-made javelin missiles is pictured burned-out by the side of a road in Ukraine, after the makeshift protection apparently failed

Ukrainian military and civilians inspect a tank abandoned by the side of a road, as Russian continues to suffer losses

Ukrainian military and civilians inspect a tank abandoned by the side of a road, as Russian continues to suffer losses

A burned-out supply truck is seen amidst the ruins of other vehicles on a road in Ukraine

A burned-out supply truck is seen amidst the ruins of other vehicles on a road in Ukraine

A destroyed Russian supply truck burns next to an abandoned vehicle, along a highway somewhere in Ukraine

A destroyed Russian supply truck burns next to an abandoned vehicle, along a highway somewhere in Ukraine

The ruins of a Russian vehicle are seen on fire after it was destroyed by Ukraine's military

The ruins of a Russian vehicle are seen on fire after it was destroyed by Ukraine’s military

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Hailey Bieber Details Terrifying ‘Life-Altering’ Mini-Stroke She Suffered And Procedure To Close Hole In Her Heart

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Hailey Bieber has spoken out in her “own words” about the “life-altering,” “scariest moment” of her life she had after suffering what she called a mini-stroke, and later underwent a procedure to close a hole in her heart.

The 25-year-old supermodel and wife of superstar singer Justin Bieber took to her YouTube channel Wednesday and opened up about the terrifying experience of being hospitalized last month after she suffered a blood clot to her brain that traveled through a hole in her heart between 12 and 13 millimeters, reported People magazine.

“I had, like, a very scary incident on March 10, basically,” Bieber shared. “I was sitting at breakfast with my husband, having a normal day … and all of the sudden, I felt this really weird sensation that kind of like traveled down my arm from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. And it made my fingertips feel really numb and weird.”

“Justin [her husband] was like, ‘Are you okay?’” she added, as she explained that she tried to respond to him, but she “couldn’t speak.” “The right side of my face started drooping; I couldn’t get a sentence out.”

“Obviously, immediately, I thought I was having a stroke,” the supermodel continued. “He thought I was having a stroke. Right away, he asked for somebody to please call 911 and get a doctor.”

Hailey said that where they were, there happened to be a medic who started asking her lots of questions and testing her arms, calling it definitely the “scariest moment” of her life. The model talked about how the “facial drooping lasted for probably like thirty seconds.” Her speech did came back, but her “anxiety” about what was happening just made “everything worse.”

“By the time I got to the emergency room, I was pretty much back to normal – [I] could talk, [I] wasn’t having any issues with my face or my arm,” Bieber explained.

She said scans revealed she had, in fact, suffered a “small blood clot” to her brain which was labeled a “TIA” [Transient Ischemic Attack]. Hailey told her followers it was basically like having a “mini-stroke.”

Doctors still weren’t sure what caused it, but she said it was widely believed it was a combination of birth-control issues, recently having COVID-19, and having just traveled “to Paris and back in a very short amount of time,” calling it a “perfect storm.”

Further testing at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed Bieber had a Grade 5 PFO [a small opening in the heart that usually closes after birth]. The outlet said the hold measured between 12 and 13 millimeters. She later underwent a procedure to close the hole, and said it went “very smoothly” and she’s recovering.

“The biggest thing I feel is I just feel really relieved that we were able to figure everything out, that we were able to get it closed, that I will be able to just move on from this really scary situation and just live my life,” Hailey shared.

“If there’s anybody that watches this that has gone through the same thing or something similar, I definitely really empathize with you,” she concluded. “And I understand how life-altering and scary it is.”

Bieber, who’s the daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and Kennya Baldwin, married her husband Justin in 2018.

Related: Hailey Baldwin Credits Christian Faith For Marriage To Justin Bieber

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Wikipedia’s Left-Wing Bias

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I love Wikipedia. I donated thousands of dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Before Wikipedia, all we had were printed encyclopedias—out of date by the time we bought them.

Then libertarian Jimmy Wales came up with a web-based, crowd-sourced encyclopedia.

Crowd-sourced? A Britannica editor called Wikipedia “a public restroom.” But Wales won the battle. Britannica’s encyclopedias are no longer printed.

Congratulations to Wales.

But recently, I learned that Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger now says Wikipedia’s political pages have turned into leftist “propaganda.”

That’s upsetting. Leftists took over the editing?

Sadly, yes. I checked it out.

All editing is done by volunteers. Wales hoped there would be enough diverse political persuasions that biases would be countered by others.

But that’s not what’s happening.

Leftists just like to write. Conservatives build things: companies, homes, farms.

You see the pattern comparing political donations from different professions: Surgeons, oil workers, truck drivers, loggers, and pilots lean right; artists, bartenders, librarians, reporters, and teachers lean left.

Conservatives don’t have as much time to tweet or argue on the web. Leftists do. And they love doing it. This helps them take over the media, universities, and now, Wikipedia.

Jonathan Weiss is what Wikipedia calls a “Top 100” Wikipedian because he’s made almost half a million edits. He says he’s noticed new bias: “Wikipedia does a great job on things like science and sports, but you see a lot of political bias come into play when you’re talking current events.”

Weiss is no conservative. In presidential races, he voted for Al Gore, Ralph Nader, and Barack Obama. Never for a Republican. “I’ve really never identified strongly with either political party,” he says.

Maybe that’s why he notices the new Wikipedia bias.

“People on the left far outweigh people on the center and the right … a lot [are] openly socialist and Marxist.” Some even post pictures of Che Guevara and Lenin on their own profiles.

These are the people who decide which news sources Wikipedia writers may cite. Wikipedia’s approved “Reliable sources” page rejects political reporting from Fox but calls CNN and MSNBC “reliable.”

Good conservative outlets like The Federalist, the Daily Caller, and The Daily Wire are all deemed “unreliable.” Same with the New York Post (That’s probably why Wikipedia called Hunter Biden’s emails a conspiracy theory even after other liberal media finally acknowledged that they were real).

While it excludes Fox, Wikipedia approves even hard left media like Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, and Jacobin, a socialist publication.

Until recently, Wikipedia’s “socialism” and “communism” pages made no mention of the millions of people killed by socialism and communism. Even now, deaths are “deep in the article,” says Weiss, “treated as an arcane academic debate. But we’re talking about mass murder!”

The communism page even adds that we cannot ignore the “lives saved by communist modernization”! This is nuts.

Look up “concentration and internment camps” and you’ll find, along with the Holocaust, “Mexico-United States border,” and under that, “Trump administration family separation policy.”

What? Former President Donald Trump’s border controls, no matter how harsh, are very different from the Nazi’s mass murder.

Wikipedia does say “anyone can edit.” So, I made a small addition for political balance, mentioning that President Barack Obama built those cages.

My edit was taken down.

I wrote Wikipedia founder Wales to say that if his creation now uses only progressive sources, I would no longer donate.

He replied, “I totally respect the decision not to give us more money. I’m such a fan and have great respect for you and your work.” But then he said it is “just 100% false … that ‘only globalist, progressive mainstream sources’ are permitted.”

He gave examples of left-wing media that Wikipedia rejects, like Raw Story and Occupy Democrats.

I’m glad he rejects them. Those sites are childishly far left.

I then wrote again to ask why “there’s not a single right-leaning media outlet Wiki labels ‘reliable’ about politics, [but] Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, CNN, MSNBC” get approval.

Wales then stopped responding to my emails.

Unless Wikipedia’s bias is fixed, I’ll be skeptical reading anything on the site.

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Public Health England to blame for sending patients to care homes without Covid tests

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, Whitehall officials alleged that Prof Duncan Selbie, the former PHE chief executive, was ultimately responsible for informing Mr Hancock of the risks.

Prof Selbie is working as a senior adviser to the DHSC. Neither he nor the department responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Mr Hancock, who was replaced by Sajid Javid last year, claimed the High Court ruling had exonerated him and the had been cleared “of any wrongdoing” because PHE “failed to tell ministers what they knew about asymptomatic transmission”.

The High Court judges concluded that care home policies in March and April 2020 were “irrational” because they failed to advise that those discharged from hospitals “should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for up to 14 days”.

“Since there is no evidence that this question was considered by the secretary of state, or that he was asked to consider it, it is not an example of a political judgment on a finely balanced issue,” they said. “Nor is it a point on which any of the expert committees had advised that no guidance was required.”

After the ruling, Boris Johnson said he wanted to “renew my apologies and sympathies” to relatives who lost loved ones, adding: “The thing we didn’t know in particular was that Covid could be transmitted asymptomatically in the way that it was.”

However, the risks of asymptomatic transmission had been highlighted by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser for England, who said it was “quite likely” as early as March 13 2020. Varying levels of risk had been outlined in papers from late January, the ruling said.

The judicial review was brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers, Michael Gibson and Donald Harris, died after testing positive for Covid.

‘Opens the floodgates for potential claims’

Paul Conrathe, a solicitor at Sinclairslaw who was instructed by both women, said: “It’s possible that care home providers and relatives who lost loved ones in the first wave could bring compensation claims. The Government was found to have acted ‘irrationally’ – that’s a very high legal hurdle.”

Nadra Ahmed, who chairs the National Care Association, said the ruling “opens the floodgates for potential claims to be brought against government policy”.

“This will be especially pertinent where the individual was not given a choice,” she said. “There will be a lot of people assimilating to the information as they consider if the loss of their loved one was premature, and holding the Government to account is the only way forward for them.”

Helen Wildbore, the director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said that the ruling proved “the protective ring around care homes was non-existent” and that older people were “abandoned at the outset of the pandemic”.

A government spokesman said it had been a “very difficult decision” to discharge hospital patients into care homes, taken when evidence on asymptomatic transmission was “extremely uncertain”.

The spokesman added: “We acknowledge the judge’s comments on assessing the risks of asymptomatic transmission and our guidance on isolation, and will respond in more detail in due course.”


‘He was in a home and should have been safe’

They stood outside the Royal Courts of Justice, two women unknown to each other before the Covid pandemic but brought together by tragedy, writes Tom Ough.

Cathy Gardner spoke first, delivering a steely reading of a statement. Matt Hancock’s boast of a “protective ring” encircling care homes, Dr Gardner said, was “a despicable lie of which he ought to be ashamed and for which he ought to apologise”.

Fay Harris, more downcast in demeanour but no less forthright, told journalists: “I have lost precious years with my wonderful Dad.”

Both women lost their fathers in early 2020, arguing that they might still be alive were it not for hospital patients having been discharged into care homes without having been tested for Covid.

Michael Gibson, born in 1931, had been a superintendent registrar of births and deaths. “He was in a home and should have been safe,” Dr Gardner told The Independent after his death.

Mr Gibson, who had advanced dementia, had fallen ill a couple of weeks before the first lockdown. Staff at his care home were unable to procure tests for Covid, but the virus is believed to have struck him down.

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