Liz Truss condemns Putin’s ‘reckless and appalling’ maternity hospital air strike

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Liz Truss repudiated Russia’s “reckless and horrific” attack on a maternity hospital in Ukraine today, warning that failure to stop Vladimir Putin would have “terrible consequences for European and global security.”

She spoke during a visit to Washington after a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol was destroyed by a horrific “direct hit” by Russian missiles that left children buried in rubble.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky labeled it an “atrocity” and demanded the Western powers “close the skies now” with a no-fly zone.

But she reiterated NATO’s opposition to such a move, fearing it would spark wider conflict.

At a press conference, she and US counterpart Anthony Blinken said: “The best way to protect the air is the flak that the UK is now going to send to Ukraine. The attack on the hospital was utterly abhorrent, reckless and horrific.”

She immediately ruled out the possibility of a no-fly zone over Ukraine, adding: “The reality is that establishing a no-fly zone would lead to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, and that’s not what we’re looking at.” . .’

She spoke during a visit to Washington after a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol was destroyed by a horrific “direct hit” by Russian missiles that left children buried in rubble.

The burning wreckage of a car can be seen outside a destroyed children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been heavily bombed by Russia for more than a week

The burning wreckage of a car can be seen outside a destroyed children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been heavily bombed by Russia for more than a week

The burning wreckage of a car can be seen outside a destroyed children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been heavily bombed by Russia for more than a week

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A maternity hospital in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has suffered ‘colossal’ damage after a ‘direct strike’ by Russian rocket artillery that left children buried under rubble (pictured, a badly damaged room at the hospital)

West has spent years underspending on defense, says Truss

Liz Truss said the West had been underspending on defense for “a number of years” in light of Russia’s belligerence.

At a news conference in Washington, she said: “In terms of defense spending, the reality is that across the West, we haven’t spent enough on defense for a number of years and we’ve seen military capability increase. from Russia, both in terms of technology and numbers.’

She welcomed Germany’s increase in defense spending and added: “I am not going to prejudge future discussions between the Chancellor and the Defense Minister.

“But in addition to conventional defense, we also need to step up our efforts in areas such as information.”

Unlike the Russians, the UK abandoned its information unit at the end of the Cold War, she said, adding: “We need to ensure that we are on every possible front, be it conventional defence, or whether it’s about technology or about information, we are able to beat our opponents.’

She warned that there will be “terrible consequences for European and global security” if Russian President Vladimir Putin is not stopped in Ukraine.

“We know from history that attackers understand only one thing, and that is strength,” she said.

“We know that if we don’t do enough now, other aggressors around the world will be encouraged.

And we know that if Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, it will have dire consequences for European and global security. We would send a message that sovereign nations can be easily trampled underfoot.

“So we have to go further and faster in our response.”

Mariupol has been under heavy Russian bombing for more than a week, with food, water and electricity cut off just days ago – with the Red Cross describing conditions there as “apocalyptic.” Hours before the hospital was hit, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned that 3,000 babies were without food or medicine and pleaded for a humanitarian corridor to allow them to flee. Moscow had today promised a ceasefire in the city so that civilians could be evacuated, but for the fourth time did not keep its word.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian commanders said Russian military police had rounded up 400 activists protesting the invasion of the occupied city of Kherson, as the long arm of Vladimir Putin’s police state crossed the border to seize people on foreign soil.

It is not the first time that Russian air strikes have targeted hospitals. While fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad in Syria in 2016, Putin’s generals were accused of “deliberately and systematically” blowing up hospitals as a way to weaken the city of Aleppo in anticipation of a ground attack.

Observers have suggested that Russia is now using a Syrian-style battle plan against Ukraine after its early precision strikes failed.

Ukraine has rejected most Russian evacuation routes because they lead to Russian soil or that of its ally, Belarus, while routes proposed by Ukraine have come under bombardment. The only successful evacuation to date has been from Sumy to Poltava (in green)

The Ukrainian Health Center, a think tank based in the country, says their team has documented 42 cases between the outbreak of fighting on Feb. 24 and today of Russian troops attacking health facilities or medics to deliberately provoke a “humanitarian crisis.” . ‘.

Hospitals had been hit in every theater where Russian troops were operating, the think tank said, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol, Kiev, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv.

“The humanitarian catastrophe is part of Russia’s hybrid war. [It] wants to sow panic, create refugee flow at the borders and force the Ukrainian government to surrender,” said Pavlo Kovtonyuk, co-founder of the think tank.

The bombing took place during what should have been a ceasefire in Mariupol so that civilians could evacuate. It is the fourth time that a so-called ‘humanitarian corridor’ out of the city has failed because Russian troops opened fire.

A baby is evacuated as people flee near a destroyed bridge to cross the Irpin River, on the outskirts of Kiev, as Russian forces try to surround it in anticipation of an attack

A baby is evacuated as people flee near a destroyed bridge to cross the Irpin River, on the outskirts of Kiev, as Russian forces try to surround it in anticipation of an attack

A baby is evacuated as people flee near a destroyed bridge to cross the Irpin River, on the outskirts of Kiev, as Russian forces try to surround it in anticipation of an attack

The mayor of Izyum, east of Kharkov, said the evacuations scheduled to take place there today also had to stop as Russians bombed the escape route.

But in Sumy, a little further on, some civilians had managed to escape. Successful evacuations also took place in Enerhodar, in the south, during which women and children were allowed to leave.

It is feared that the evacuations are simply a harbinger of Russia ramping up its bombing raids on the cities to defeat the tenacious Ukrainian defenders before deploying troops and tanks to capture them.

CIA Director William Burns, who briefed Congress on Putin’s state of mind on Tuesday, warned that the “angry and frustrated” despot “will likely double down and try to take down the Ukrainian military without regard for civilian casualties.”

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