Children among the dead after Russian invaders opened fire on fleeing civilians
Russian forces opened fire on families fleeing the fighting in and around Irpin on 6 March, with at least three people killed, including two children. Irpin is one of the small cities near Kyiv which the Russians have been bombing and / or shelling for a week, with the devastation caused making it urgent to evacuate residents. This, however, is a problem when dealing with Russian invaders who demonstrated after the Battle at Ilovaisk back in August 2014 that no promise of a green corridor can be trusted. The photos from Irpin on 5 March, as Ukrainian soldiers helped evacuate the elderly, the disabled and families with small children were already heart-breaking, but then, at least, the Russians held their fire.
It is chillingly clear that Russia is using the same tactics against Ukraine as it applied earlier, first in Chechnya and then in Syria. It is continuing its indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets in Kharkiv, and the level of bombing and shelling has brought the port city of Mariupol to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. Vadym Boichenko, Mayor of Mariupol stated in an interview on 5 March that it is impossible to count the numbers of residents killed because of the relentless airstrikes, but that the number of people injured is in the thousands. There is also no heating, electricity, water or mobile communications. The Ukrainian authorities have been trying to evacuate up to 200 thousand residents for two days, with both agreements on a humanitarian corridor broken, and the authorities forced to abandon the evacuation.
While it may be appropriate in some circumstances for the western media to report that both sides are blaming each other for the broken agreement, it is hard to see the justification in this case. Russia has invaded Ukraine, and its clear use of indiscriminate bombing and shelling and targeting of civilians are among the many reasons for the unprecedented demand by 38 member states for the International Criminal Code to initiate proceedings now. It was equally unprecedented for the European Court of Human Rights to have issued an order that Russia stop its bombing of civilians. It is Russia that is committing such crimes and flouting a binding order to refrain from such barbarism.
One of the Kyiv oblast cities particularly devastated is Borodianka. The Russian occupiers then seized a psychoneurological internat housing 670 patients with chronic conditions, of whom around 100 are bedridden. They reportedly ‘released’ the patients, but since the Russians are currently occupying Borodianka, it is unclear how to evacuate the patients. In other areas as well, the invaders are reportedly taking civilians hostage.
Even in Kherson, which is now under Russian control, thousands of Ukrainians have come out, ignoring warning shots, to tell the invaders to get out of Ukraine. There is huge mobilization of the entire population, however Ukraine is confronting an enemy willing to bomb and devastate whole cities, and it really would be of critical help if western countries would declare a No Fly Zone over Ukraine. If you have not done so already, please sign the petition here, and contact your elected representatives, asking them to lobby for this.