Hundreds of people sheltering inside the Mariupol drama theatre died in the March attack CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK
- By Chanel Zagon
- 30 JUNE 2022 • 5:06AM
Russia’s deadly airstrikes on a theatre being used as a shelter for civilians in the besieged city of Mariupol was a “clear war crime”, an investigation by Amnesty International has claimed.
According to the human rights group, there was no evidence that the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre – where up to 1,300 civilians were hiding in a basement – was a base of operations for Ukrainian soldiers.
The report found there was every indication the theatre was serving as a safe haven for civilians seeking protection from weeks of relentless Russian shelling and airstrikes.
As many as 600 people are believed to have died in the March 16 attack, both inside and outside the building.
Amnesty’s crisis response team interviewed several survivors and collected evidence, concluding the airstrike was likely carried out by Russian fighter aircraft, which dropped two 500kg bombs that struck close to each other and detonated simultaneously.
“After months of rigorous investigation, analysis of satellite imagery and interviews with dozens of witnesses, we concluded that the strike was a clear war crime committed by Russian forces,” Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said.
“Many people were injured and killed in this merciless attack. Their deaths were likely caused by Russian forces deliberately targeting Ukrainian civilians.
“The International Criminal Court, and all others with jurisdiction over crimes committed during this conflict, must investigate this attack as a war crime.”
Russia ramps up attacks in Ukraine after landmark NATO summit
Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine continued on Thursday after NATO branded Russia the biggest “direct threat” to Western security.
Evacuation attempts to rescue residents from Lysychansk remain underway, with about 15,000 people remaining in the frontline eastern city.
“Fighting is going on all the time. The Russians are constantly on the offensive. There is no let-up,” regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television.
“Absolutely everything is being shelled.”
In the southern Kherson region, Ukrainian forces were fighting back with artillery strikes of their own, Oleskiy Arestovych, adviser to the Ukrainian president, said in a video posted online.
Smoke rises over the remains of a building destroyed by a military strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues in Lysychansk CREDIT:REUTERS
Volodymyr Zelensky meets Sir Richard Branson in Kyiv
British billionaire Sir Richard Branson has travelled to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and witnessed some of the devastation caused by Russia’s “appalling invasion” first-hand.
The entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group met with Mr Zelensky, foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and a group of Ukrainian business leaders on Wednesday.
Sir Richard said the meeting’s aim was to “learn what business, in partnership with civil society and governments, can do to support Ukraine most effectively”.
He visited a residential area with a destroyed kindergarten and travelled to Gostomel Airport to see the remains of Antonov AN-225, the world’s largest transport plane.
“It is clear these kinds of attacks are not unintended and arbitrary,” Sir Richard said.
“They are part of a deliberate strategy to spread fear and terror among Ukraine’s civilian population.
“I hope the Russian perpetrators of these shocking acts will be held to account.”
Nato rapid response plan in disarray as it struggles to muster firepower
Jens Stoltenberg’s pledge of a 300,000-strong Nato rapid response force has been thrown into disarray, as alliance members refused to commit their troops.
Nato officials were forced to concede that the project – announced on Monday – was instead a work in progress, as they tried to muster enough firepower to make it a reality.
Speaking at the end of the second day of a Nato summit in Madrid, the alliance’s secretary-general acknowledged his plan required allies to “contribute the forces they have promised to contribute”.
Russia’s deadly airstrikes on a Mariupol theatre being used as a shelter for civilians was a “clear war crime”, Amnesty International says.
Putin still wants to take most of Ukraine and the picture for the war there remains “pretty grim,” a top U.S. intelligence official said.
Apledge of a 300,000-strong Nato rapid response force has been thrown into disarray as alliance members refuse to commit soldiers to the project.
144 Ukrainian soldiers have been freed in Kyiv’s “largest” prisoner swap with Moscow since the beginning of the war.
Boris Johnson said Vladimir Putin is an example of “toxic masculinity” and would not have invaded Ukraine if he was a woman.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday told Indonesia’s visiting President Joko Widodo that he will attend the upcoming G20 summit in Bali depending on who else is attending.
Nato leaders decried Russia’s “appalling cruelty” in Ukraine and pledged more support for Kyiv as it faces the onslaught from Moscow.