The city council of Mariupol, in southern Ukraine, has broadcast video of a destroyed maternity facility and accused Russian soldiers of dropping five bombs on it from the air.

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“The destruction is enormous. The building of the medical facility where the children were treated recently is completely destroyed. Information on casualties is being clarified,” the council said.

“A maternity hospital in the city center, a children’s ward and department of internal medicine … all these were destroyed during the Russian air strike on Mariupol. Just now,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk regional administration, stated.

The air strike on a hospital in Mariupol was criticised by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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“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?” Zelensky said on his Telegram account.

The president vented his rage once more at NATO for failing to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine, stating, “Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”

The number of people killed in the incident has yet to be established.

Mariupol is located on the Azov Sea, around 100 kilometres from Donetsk, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently acknowledged as an independent republic.

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If taken, this city would play an important role in the hypothetical land corridor between Russia and the Crimean peninsula. Notably, in March 2014, Russia took Crimea from Ukraine.

This is consistent with Russia’s concept of territorial continuity, in which it intends to connect the Black Sea peninsula and the rebel territories of Ukraine’s east, Donetsk and Luhansk, which Moscow now considers autonomous.

However, losing Mariupol means losing access to the Azov Sea “in an economic sense,” according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.