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Russian forces bomb 400 civilians sheltering in Ukraine school

Russian forces bomb 400 civilians sheltering in Ukraine school
Ukrainian refugees passed the Moldova-Ukraine border near Palanca Village, Moldova, on Saturday. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Moldova received more than 325,448 Ukrainians fleeing into the country so far, following Russia's military invasion of Ukraine. Photo by Dumitru Doru/EPA-EFE

March 20 (UPI) -- Russian forces bombed a drama school in the besieged city of Mariupol where about 400 civilians had been sheltering from the fighting, Ukrainian officials said.

The Mariupol City Council said in a statement to Telegram that the drama school had been bombed Sunday, destroying the building and burying casualties in the rubble. It was not immediately clear how many people survived the attack.

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The bombing came just days after a theater that was sheltering civilians was bombed on Wednesday, which had been marked to note that there were children inside.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his overnight address to the nation that the terror caused by Russian forces shelling and bombing Mariupol "will be remembered for centuries to come."

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"The besieged Mariupol will go down in the history of responsibility for war crimes," Zelensky said.

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The city has been under attack since March 1, as humanitarian groups raised alarms about the crisis faced by residents who did do have access to food, water and medicine.

Ukrainian officials said Saturday that 10 new humanitarian corridors had been agreed upon to evacuate residents, including one in Mariupol stretching to the city of Zaporizhzhia in the Donetsk region where Russian forces took control of the country's largest nuclear power plant.

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Zelensky said that eight humanitarian corridors worked on Saturday and that 6,623 people were able to be rescued from various cities at the frontlines including more than 4,000 who were able to leave Mariupol.

"Due to shelling of the occupiers, we were unable to rescue people from Borodyanka, Kyiv region," Zelensky said. "But we will not abandon these attempts."

He also said that Russian forces blocked the movement of a humanitarian convoy to deliver supplies to Kherson, a move he alleged Russia made as propaganda to convince the world that Ukraine has left its citizens without access to essential supplies.

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"Ukrainians have proved they can fight more professionally than an army that has been fighting for decades in different regions and under different conditions," Zelensky said.

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"This is a place where the Russian military and their commanders have shown themselves completely as they are: incompetent, capable of simply driving their people to slaughter."

Zelensky said that more than 14,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine and up to 90% of some units of the Russian forces have been destroyed with "the corpses of Russian soldiers" piled at the frontlines.

Russian ground forces have largely stalled in Ukraine as Washington thinktanks described Ukrainian forces as having defeated Russia in the initial phase of the war.

The Institute for the Study of War said in a report Saturday that Russian forces continue to make limited advances "but are very unlikely to be able to seize their objectives in this way."

"The doctrinally sound Russian response to this situation would be to end this campaign, accept a possibly lengthy operational pause, develop the plan for a new campaign, build up resources for that new campaign, and launch it when the resources and other conditions are ready," the report reads.

"The Russian military has not yet adopted this approach. It is instead continuing to feed small collections of reinforcements into an ongoing effort to keep the current campaign alive. We assess that that effort will fail."

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The experts said that even if Russian forces successfully cause Mariupol to fall, it will likely not free up enough resources to change the outcome of the war.

If Russian President Vladimir Putin continues the invasion of Ukraine, it will likely lead to a "very violent and bloody" stalemate "causing enormous casualties" from both sides, according to the thinktank.

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