Devastating economic sanctions from the US and its allies haven’t stopped Russia’s assault on Ukraine, which resulted in damage to another hospital — this time a cancer hospital in the southern city of Mykolaiv, according to Ukrainian officials.
Several hundred patients were in the hospital during the attack but no one was killed, according to the hospital’s head doctor, Maksim Beznosenko.
And on Saturday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry accused Russian forces of shelling a mosque in Mariupol where more than 80 children and adults were seeking shelter.
The news comes days after Russian officials struggled to offer a consistent explanation for an assault on a maternity and children’s hospital complex that killed 3 people.
Russia currently appears to be regrouping from recent losses and possibly gearing up for operations against Kyiv. Fighting has intensified close to Ukraine’s capital, where doctors are bracing for the prospect of widespread casualties from war.
Meanwhile, Russia’s economy is in shambles: The ruble has crashed and the Moscow stock market remains closed.
US leaders have hinted the economic pressure is intended to provoke the Russian people to take action against their government.
“The way this conflict will end is when Putin realizes that this adventure has put his own leadership standing at risk with his own military, with his own people,” Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland tested earlier this week. “He will have to change course, or the Russian people take matters into their own hands.”
In the meantime, experts warn the Ukrainian people will continue to suffer, especially if fighting in Kyiv escalates.
“Where that leads, I think, is for an ugly next few weeks in which he doubles down with scant regard for civilian casualties, in which urban fighting can get even uglier,” said CIA Director William Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia.
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► President Joe Biden on Friday called for a removal of normal trade relations with Russia, allowing for new tariffs on Russian imports in yet another effort to ratchet up sanctions over Moscow’s intensifying invasion of Ukraine. Biden said the move will be another “crushing blow” to Russia’s economy.
► The World Health Organization said Friday it verified 29 attacks on health care facilities, workers and ambulances in Ukraine, which have killed 12 people and injured 34. The UN human rights office confirmed 564 civilian fatalities and 982 civilian injuries in the conflict, which is likely an undercount, the office said.
► On Saturday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Russian forces shelled a mosque in Mariupol sheltering more than 80 children and adults.
► On Friday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of kidnapping the mayor of the city of Melitopol.
Russian forces shelled a mosque sheltering more than 80 children and adults in the war-ravaged city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said Saturday.
Both the ministry and Ukraine’s first deputy minister of foreign affairs shared images of the mosque to Twitter.
“At this very moment, the (Russian) army is bombing the Magnificent Mosque, which was built in memory of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hürrem Sultan,” Emine Dzheppar, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, tweeted Friday.
The ministry said that Turkish citizens were also hiding in the mosque when it was shelled, which the Ukrainian Embassy in Turkey confirmed. The embassy said a group of 86 Turkish nationals, including 34 children, were among the people who sought safety in the mosque.
-Ella Lee, Associated Press
Misinformation abounds amid Russia-Ukraine war
Misinformation and disinformation is easily spreading on social media — here’s the latest from the USA TODAY fact-check team:
MILAN — Italian financial police has seized a Russian-owned superyacht valued at $578 million in the port of Trieste as part of seizures of oligarch wealth to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt the war on Ukraine.
The “Sy A” yacht was identified by Italian police as belonging to belonging to billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, who made a fortune in fertilizer production and coal energy. It was seized Friday evening.
Video shows police in cars with flashing lights approaching the triple-mast yacht and officers boarding it.
Italian authorities last week seized some $156 million in luxury yachts and villas belonging to Russian billionaires in such picturesque retreats as Sardinia, the Ligurian coast and Lake Como.
LONDON — Britain’s Defense Ministry says fighting northwest of Kyiv has continued with the bulk of Russian ground forces now around 15 miles from the center of the city.
A daily intelligence update says elements of the large Russian military column north of Kyiv have dispersed. It says this is likely to support a Russian attempt to encircle the Ukrainian capital. According to the brief, it could also be an attempt by Russia to reduce its vulnerability to Ukrainian counterattacks, which have taken a significant toll on Russian forces.
The update says that beyond Kyiv, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remain encircled and continue to suffer heavy Russian shelling.
Russia’s space agency has sent NASA and other international partners a letter demanding an end to sanctions, saying they could threaten the International Space Station.
In a tweet Saturday, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said the letter appealed to the space agencies of the United States, Canada and Europe to keep the space station operational.
He illustrated the appeal with a map showing the flight path of the ISS — and a potential fall zone that straddles much of the world but barely touches upon Russia.
Four NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and one European astronaut are currently on the space station.
SpaceX’s Starlink network of internet satellites in Earth orbit continues to make its case during real-world crises, this time with the delivery of more hardware to Ukraine.
Mykhailo Fedorov, vice prime minister of Ukraine, this week confirmed his country’s government received its second shipment of Starlink user terminals, each of which include a satellite dish and built-in WiFi router. Non-traditional communications channels, especially satellite-based, are critical during crises like war or natural disasters.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk this month agreed to open up the satellite-based internet service to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion. Users only need the terminal, power, and a device like a smartphone or laptop to access the internet, meaning Starlink’s connectivity is less prone to being knocked out by Russian forces.
–Emre Kelly, Florida Today
Downtown Kyiv hospital braces for carnage doctors fear will come
As Russian troops accumulate on the outskirts of Kyiv, Dr. Vitaliy Krylyuk said an uneasy calm has settled at the city’s largest downtown hospital.
Doctors at the Kyiv Hospital of Emergency Medicine are tending to conventional injuries such as car crashes and gunshot wounds. But Krylyuk, who spoke with USA TODAY over a video call, fears things will soon worsen if Russian missiles target the city or enemy troops close on the heart of Ukraine’s capital.
“The biggest problem we need to think about is a mass casualty situation,” said Krylyuk, who serves at the Ukrainian Scientific and Practical Center of Emergency and Disaster Medicine, a division of Ukraine’s Ministry of Health. “We’ve never had a mass casualty situation. We know this theoretically, not practically.”
Emergency planners have sought to address gaps that would emerge if the number of people with life-threatening wounds outstripped the hospital’s capacity to care for them. They sought to figure out which hospital entrance to direct ambulances to quickly get patients to hospital beds. Government planners have drafted documents on how to prioritize patients, ensure patients can breathe, secure blood transfusions or notify family members if a loved one is killed or wounded.
As companies leave Russia, their assets could be seized
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that if foreign companies shut down production in Russia, he favored a plan to “bring in outside management and then transfer these companies to those who want to work.”
A draft law could allow Russian courts to supplement external administrators for companies that cease operations and are at least 25% foreign-owned. If the owners refuse to resume operations or to sell, the company’s shares could be auctioned off, the ruling United Russia party has said, calling it “the first step toward nationalization.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki criticized “any lawless decision by Russia to seize the assets of these companies,” saying that it “will ultimately result in even more economic pain for Russia.”
“It will compound the clear message to the global business community that Russia is not a safe place to invest and do business,” she said in a tweet, adding that “Russia may also invite legal claims from companies whose property is seized.”
Even before its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was already trying to domesticize its food supply following sanctions it had placed on the European Union in 2014. With little to no fresh food imported from those trading partners, Russia put greater focus on domestic food and importing from friendlier countries like Turkey.
One voice pushing back against confiscating foreign firms’ assets is billionaire metals tycoon Vladimir Potanin, who compared it to the Russian Revolution of 1917, when Communists took power.
“It would set us back 100 years to 1917 and the consequences of a step like this one — global distrust in Russia by investors — would be felt by us for many decades,” he said in a statement Thursday on the social media of his company , Nornickel.
Contributing: The Associated Press