Russia accused of ‘medieval siege warfare’ as shelling intensifies

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine deepened as Russian forces intensified their shelling in a move Kyiv condemned as a medieval-style siege by Moscow to batter it into submission.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 7:45 am

A third round of talks between the two sides ended with a top Ukrainian official saying there had been minor, unspecified progress towards establishing safe corridors that would allow civilians to escape the fighting.

Russia’s top negotiator said he expects those corridors to start functioning today.

But that remained to be seen, given the failure of previous attempts to lead civilians to safety amid the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II.

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People holding their children struggle to get on a train to Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine, (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces continued to pummel cities with rockets, and fierce fighting raged in places.

In one of the most desperate cities, the encircled southern port of Mariupol, an estimated 200,000 people were hoping to flee, and Red Cross officials waited to hear when a corridor would be established.

The city is short on water, food and power, and mobile phone networks are down. Stores have been looted as residents search for essential goods.

Police moved through the city, advising people to remain in shelters until they heard official messages broadcast over loudspeakers to evacuate.

Hospitals in Mariupol are facing desperate shortages of antibiotics and painkillers, and doctors performed some emergency procedures without them.

The lack of phone service left anxious citizens approaching strangers to ask if they knew relatives living in other parts of the city and whether they were safe.

In the capital Kyiv, soldiers and volunteers have built hundreds of checkpoints, often using sandbags, stacked tyres and spiked cables.

Some barriers looked significant, with heavy concrete slabs and sandbags piled more than two stories high, while others appeared more haphazard, with hundreds of books used to weigh down stacks of tyres.

“Every house, every street, every checkpoint, we will fight to the death if necessary,” said Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, heavy shelling slammed into apartment buildings.

“I think it struck the fourth floor under us,” Dmitry Sedorenko said from his Kharkiv hospital bed. “Immediately, everything started burning and falling apart.”

When the floor collapsed beneath him, he crawled out through the third floor, past the bodies of some of his neighbours.

Mr Klitschko reported in a Telegram video address that fierce battles continued in the Kyiv region, notably around Bucha, Hostomel, Vorzel and Irpin.

At The Hague in the Netherlands, Ukraine pleaded with the International Court of Justice to order a halt to Russia’s invasion, saying Moscow is committing widespread war crimes.

Russia “is resorting to tactics reminiscent of medieval siege warfare, encircling cities, cutting off escape routes and pounding the civilian population with heavy ordnance”, said Jonathan Gimblett, a member of Ukraine’s legal team.

Russia snubbed the court proceedings, leaving its seats in the Great Hall of Justice empty.