Russia fires cruise missiles; School housing 400 affected, Ukraine says

Firing rockets and bombs from land, air and sea, Russian forces continued to bombard the beleaguered coastal city of Mariupol on Sunday. With the Russian advance on major Ukrainian cities stalled and satellite images showing soldiers digging into defensive positions around kyiv, the fierce fighting in the coastal city has shown no sign of abating.
The bombing of a theater where around 1,300 people were seeking refuge on Thursday was followed on Sunday, local officials say, by a strike against a drama school where 400 people were hiding. Local authorities said the school building had been destroyed and people could remain under the rubble. There was no word on the casualties.
Russian forces also shelled a theater in Mariupol where civilians were sheltering on Wednesday. City authorities said 130 people had been rescued but many more could remain under the rubble. A Russian airstrike hit a maternity ward in Mariupol early in the war.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said an incessant siege by Russian troops would go down in history for what he called war crimes. “To do this in a peaceful city, which the occupiers did, is a terror that will be remembered for centuries,” Zelensky said in a video address to the nation.
The town is largely cut off from the outside world and, like dozens of other towns and villages on Ukraine’s eastern and southern fronts, the scale of the civilian toll is difficult to estimate. Ukrainian officials said on Sunday that an attack on a home for the elderly on March 11, in a town called Kreminna in the Lugansk region, left 56 people dead. “They just adjusted the tank, put it in front of the house and started firing,” Lugansk regional administration head Serhiy Haidai said on Sunday.
Russia, meanwhile, said on Sunday it used advanced long-range missiles to hit three military installations in different parts of Ukraine. There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials and the claims could not immediately be independently verified. The Russian Defense Ministry statement comes as its ground advances have largely stalled.
While Russian forces have faced fierce resistance in and around key cities such as Mariupol, Mykolaiv and the capital, Kyiv, Ukrainian forces can do little to repel attacks from cruise ships and other missiles launched at hundreds of kilometers.
Russia said on Sunday its missiles hit a Ukrainian military training center in the northern town of Ovruch and a major fuel depot near the town of Mykolaiv, a Russian strategic target on its way to the port city of Odessa, home to the headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy. Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said in a statement on Sunday that Russia used a Kinzhal hypersonic missile to hit the fuel depot. It is the same type of missile that Russia claimed it used for the first time on Saturday to hit an ammunition depot in western Ukraine.
Although the Ukrainian government confirmed that the facility had been hit, it was not clear if the hypersonic weapon had been used. Cruise missiles launched from the Black Sea on Sunday also destroyed workshops at a military factory in the northern town of Nizhyn, General Konashenkov said. not

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