Attacks on civilians escalate in Ukraine

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Russian forces are stepping up their attacks on Ukraine as they advance towards the capital Kyiv, causing increasing civilian casualties.

A US Department of Defense official said Russian troops were relentlessly firing missiles and bombs at targets in Ukraine. The official says more than 710 missiles were launched, most from mobile systems deployed in Ukraine and from Russia.

The official also said that the Russian military uses unguided bombs that are likely to miss targets and end up increasing damage to civilian infrastructure and causing more civilian casualties.

Amid reports of increased shelling of the civilian population, international media quote Ukrainian authorities as saying that 17 people were injured at a maternity hospital in the port city of Mariupol in a Russian airstrike.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted on Wednesday that people, including children, were still under the wreckage. Zelensky said, “How much longer will the world be complicit in ignoring terror? Close the skies now! Stop the killings! You have the power but you seem to lose your humanity.

The UN human rights office said that as of March 8, at least 516 Ukrainian civilians, including 37 children, had been killed since the start of the Russian invasion. Most of the deaths were caused by missiles and bombs. A total of 908 people were injured.

Washington flatly refused any plans to supply MiG fighter jets to Ukraine via a second country. Polish leaders had offered to send Soviet-era fighter jets to a US air base in Germany.

US Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby said on Wednesday: “The intelligence community felt that the transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine could be mistaken for an escalation and could result in a significant Russian reaction that could increase the prospects for a military escalation with NATO.”

Kirby called it a high-risk undertaking that would not significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force.

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