The deadly bombing of a children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol is further proof of the need for increased NATO intervention, including a no-fly zone to prevent further Russian airstrikes, a Ukrainian MP says.
Dmytro Gurin says closing the skies over Ukraine will prevent the further targeting of civilians, warning that “World War III is already here” and will continue to escalate until the West intervenes.
“They came here to kill us all,” Gurin told Global News, speaking of the Russians.
“They (came to understand) during the first week (of the invasion) that we will resist. They thought we would not, but we did. And now they’ve decided, ‘if they will all resist, let’s kill them all.’
“All of Europe, in two years, you will ask yourself, ‘why didn’t we do anything? Why did we just wait? Why didn’t we close the sky … at least over humanitarian corridors for these hostages to get out?'”
Global News is not disclosing Gurin’s location for his safety. He confirmed he remains in Ukraine, as does the rest of the federal government, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Ukrainian officials on Wednesday blamed Russia for multiple bombs that destroyed the children’s hospital and connected maternity ward in the southern port city of Mariupol, a strategic target for the Russian military whose troops have surrounded the city since last week.
Mariupol’s city council said Thursday that three people were killed in the blasts, including a young girl, while 17 people were hurt including pregnant women, children and doctors. The reports could not be immediately verified.
U.S. officials on Wednesday called the “credible” reports that Russian forces attacked the children’s hospital “unconscionable.”
Moscow on Thursday called the reports “fake news,” alleging the building was a former hospital that had long been controlled by Russian troops.
The bombings interrupted a temporary ceasefire meant to allow citizens to evacuate the city through humanitarian corridors.
Local officials have said the city is running out of food and medicine, while heat and water have been cut off by constant Russian attacks that have killed over 1,200 civilians in nine days.
Gurin is from Mariupol and lived there for 15 years. His parents, who are in their late 60s, are still in the city, hiding in the basement of their home where they are “melt(ing) snow to have water,” he said.
“My house, my school and my university were bombed or hit by artillery,” he said. “And the hospital where I worked when I was a child is bombed. So they’re just bombing all my past, all my life, all the time.”
Gurin says while there are “some bodies in the streets” as well as mass graves in Mariupol, the situation is even worse in Russian-occupied territories like Kherson, where access to the wider world has been cut off.
“There are just people, bodies every 10 metres, and Russian troops,” he said. “They don’t let people go out for food, and they kill people in the entrance to the shops with the food.”
He says the conflict has already transitioned from “a usual war with army against army” to “a totally new war” with “bombs against the civilian population.”
Nationwide, thousands are thought to have been killed, both civilians and soldiers, since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded the country. The U.N. estimates more than 2 million people have fled Ukraine the biggest exodus of refugees in Europe since the end of World War II.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians, reiterating that their invasion is a “special military operation” meant to demilitarize Ukraine and remove “neo-Nazi” elements from the government, including Zelenskyy.
Despite significant evidence of residential homes, schools and other civilian infrastructure destroyed across the country, Russia has blamed Ukrainian militants for the destruction and using civilians as “human shields.”
Putin has also blamed those militants for the failure of previous attempts to set up humanitarian corridors out of Mariupol and other cities, including the capital Kyiv. Ukraine says Russian attacks have prevented the safe evacuations.
Ukraine and Russia’s foreign ministers are set to meet in Turkey on Thursday, their first sit-down together since the invasion began.
Ukraine is seeking a ceasefire, liberation of its territories and to resolve all humanitarian issues, the Ukrainian minister Dmytro Kuleba said, adding: “Frankly … my expectations of the talks are low.”
In the meantime, Ukraine continues to call for a no-fly zone over the country. It’s a move NATO allies have so far refused to take, arguing it would be seen as direct engagement with Russia and could spark a larger and deadlier conflict.
Gulin says without a closure of the skies, “hundreds of thousands will die” from either Russian airstrikes, starvation in cities like Mariupol where civilians are trapped — or an even more devastating attack.
“I think that you will have to decide in the next several days, because I think, during the week there is the really very high possibility that a tactical nuke will be used,” he said.
Western defense and intelligence officials have yet to hint at such a possibility, while experts are currently split on whether Putin would resort to such a tactic.
Yet Gurin says the bottom line is that the West needs to intervene quickly to prevent further escalation.
“Where is your line? Is the maternity hospital in Ukraine enough? Is our blood red enough for you?” he asked.
“You have to decide, are you joining us in this war now, or are you just waiting for this war to come to you?”
–With files from the Associated Press and Reuters