Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky asked why a maternity hospital in the country would pose a threat to Russia, in a Telegram video message, on Wednesday, after news of airstrikes destroying a maternity hospital in Mariupol emerged. 

Zelensky said, as per CNN, “Russian bombs fell on a hospital and maternity centre in Mariupol. A children’s hospital, a working maternity hospital, those buildings are ruined!”, and asked, “Children`s hospital? Maternity ward? Why were they a threat to Russian Federation? What kind of country is the Russian Federation that is afraid of hospitals, afraid of maternity wards and destroys them?” 

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According to the president, 17 people were injured in the attack and authorities continue to search the rubble for more victims.

After the airstrike, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko also posted a Telegram message for the global community, requesting a no-fly zone over Ukraine. 

He said, as per CNN, “Today I am asking the global community for help. Close the sky over Ukraine. Our will has not been broken, we will fight to the end. We have motivated soldiers and officers who defend our homeland. But today we need support”, and added “What happened at the children’s hospital is pure evil”. 

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Hours before the airstrike took place, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had accused Ukraine of forming combat positions at the location. The CNN quoted her saying at the regular briefing that “in Mariupol, the Ukrainian national battalions, having expelled the staff and patients from the maternity hospital, equipped combat positions in it”. 

Notably, Ukraine has already accused Russia of war crimes and Zelensky has called this recent attack the “final proof, proof of a genocide of Ukrainians taking place”, in his Telegram post. He also said, “Europeans! Ukrainians! Citizens of Mariupol! Today we have to be united in condemning this Russian war crime in which is reflected all the evil that Russian occupants brought to our land”. 

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While the UK has also recognized Russian actions in Ukraine as a war crime, the US has shied away from the label but taken cognizance of Russia attacking civilian targets.