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The pregnant woman and her infant who died after a Russian airstrike on a hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol might be the most moving, tragic, needless individual story in the war in Ukraine that started one month ago today.
Associated Press photographer Evgeniy Maloletka saw the woman as five men carried her on a stretcher in front of a bombed-out building. Suffering grave injuries, she later died amid “horrific conditions,” the Washington Post explained. Her unborn child was delivered via Caesarean section but didn’t make it.
Another, slightly more hopeful, episode followed a Russian airstrike on a revered theater in Mariupol, a port city that had been fortified against Russian attacks but where people nonetheless are suffering horribly, as NBC News reported. Residents had written the word “children” on the ground in front of the theater in order to dissuade Russians from dropping bombs there, added National Public Radio.
The Russians dropped a bomb on the theater anyway. Luckily many inside survived because they were in a basement bomb shelter where they avoided the worst of the impacts.
Attacks like those led US President Joe Biden to call Putin a “war criminal,” strong language that draws a bright line between the righteous US-led NATO alliance and Russia, the Hill wrote, adding that Putin is technically not a war criminal until international courts and lawyers have convicted him as such.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov tartly told Reuters that Biden’s comments were not only “absolutely impermissible, unacceptable and unforgivable” but also hypocritical. “The main thing is that the head of a state which has for many years bombed people across the world…the president of such a country has no right to make such statements,” Peskov said.
Biden is scheduled to visit with European leaders on March 24 to discuss the war, the Associated Press reported. Military aid, refugees and Russia’s potential crimes will be on the docket for sure.
Around 7,000 Russians have died in the war, CNN noted. That’s more than the US lost in 20 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. Morale in the Russian armed forces is plunging. In contrast, 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have died, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Guardian wrote. But the fighting has displaced as many as 10 million people, with more than 3.6 million of those having left the country, the UN reported.
The world, meanwhile, still awaits closure on how China might decide to respond to the war. A Reuters analysis warned that, as Western sanctions have crippled the Russian economy, Chinese President Xi Jinping could create a new economic bloc with Russia and other nations to counter the US and European Union.
In one month, the entire world order shifted. Europeans are moving to shore up their borders with soldiers and arms like never before. Russians are leaving their country in droves as their leaders crack down on dissent. And, meanwhile, in country zero, Ukrainians who stayed look around at some of their cities now, tattered and broken, often unrecognizable, and wonder when it will all end.