How Putin's forces are laying waste to city after city

How Putin’s forces are laying waste to city after city: Town in eastern Ukraine ‘no longer exists’ after days of bombardment while Kremlin forces continue to pound Kyiv and other populated areas

  • Vladimir Putin’s unrelenting campaign plumbed new depths yesterday 
  • Russian bombs wiped out an entire city in eastern Ukraine in harrowing scenes
  • Volnovakha, in Donetsk , was said to ‘no longer exist’ after days of bombardment 
  • Refugees were also targeted as Russian troops opened fire on an evacuation train and on a monastery where 1,000 people were taking shelter

Vladimir Putin’s unrelenting campaign plumbed new depths yesterday as Russian bombs wiped out an entire city in eastern Ukraine.

In harrowing scenes, Volnovakha, in the Donetsk region, was said to ‘no longer exist’ after days of heavy bombardment saw hospitals, churches and apartment blocks razed to rubble.

Refugees were also targeted as Russian troops opened fire on an evacuation train and on a monastery where 1,000 people were taking shelter.

As officials condemned the Kremlin’s ‘barbarity’, emergency workers in Mykolaiv, near the port of Odessa, desperately searched for survivors after strikes hit a school and other residential buildings.

And Putin’s soldiers were accused of a ‘crime against humanity’ by allegedly using banned phosphorus bombs in a civilian area.

A woman stands outside a local hospital, which was destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 12

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As Ukraine’s death toll continued to grow, former world boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko insisted the country would continue to fight on.

‘This is our home and there is no other way we are going to leave,’ he told CNN from his Kyiv bolthole.

‘There is nothing that can possibly break the will of our women and men.

‘We all stand together and we are highly motivated to defend our country because this is our home, this is where our children were going to school, where our relatives are buried in the ground…

‘We will defend the country until the last drop of blood.’


Russian troops continued to push towards the historic Ukrainian capital yesterday – whose seizure is Putin’s ultimate goal.

A 40-mile convoy was redeployed last week to towns and forests on the city outskirts with troops attempting to surround the capital and cut off supply lines.

The local authority says Kyiv has a two-week supply of food in case there is a blockade. The council said just over half may remain out of the city’s usual 3.5 million population.

‘The two million Kyiv residents who have not left their homes will not be without support if the situation worsens,’ a spokesman said.

Yesterday mayor Vitali Klitschko – Wladimir’s brother and also a former boxing champion – said the city was living in fear of bombing attacks. However, sitting alongside Wladimir, he added that Ukrainian soldiers had ‘destroyed’ Russian plans to take the city and would continue to fight.

‘People who never expected to take weapons to hand [are] defending houses, children and the future of our country,’ he said.


Nine people were killed and countless others stuck beneath debris after air strikes hit an apartment building in the southern city.

Distressing footage shared by Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry also showed piles of rubble amid flames and thick smoke – the aftermath of a shelling attack on a secondary school. Four people died and three were injured.

Patients were also forced to hide in the cellar of a cancer hospital after a bomb blast destroyed the doorways and shattered windows.

Such has been the fierce fighting, that the dead were left in black body bags in the snow as the city’s morgue struggled to cope with the rising number of corpses.

The British Ministry of Defence said in its daily briefing yesterday that Russian forces advancing from Crimea were looking to circumvent Mykolaiv as they drove west.

A monument of the city founder Duke de Richelieu is seen covered with sand bags for protection, amid Russian attacks on Ukraine, in central Odessa, Ukraine on March 12

Soldiers and residents prayed  at the Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Lviv, Ukraine, as the war continued to rage

A Ukrainian firefighter drags a hose inside a large food products storage facility which was destroyed by an airstrike in the early morning hours on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 13

A view of damaged buildings and streets due to the ongoing Russian shelling and missile strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 13

First responders are seen cleaning up a building recently destroyed by Russian rockets in Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 13

The emergency workers donned hard hats and protective gear as they made their way through the rubble and debris

Firefighters also helped with the clean up in the city of Kharkiv, which is in the northeast of the war-torn country

An unexploded bomb was lifted out of another building in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine on March 13 after intense fighting today

But the city is seen as a key capture ahead of any future assault on the port of Odessa, further down the Black Sea coast.

Odessa was preparing for an invasion yesterday with people placing sandbags around precious monuments and even covering religious icons in churches in the hope they will be protected.

Civilians have also been preparing for battle by making Molotov cocktails and arming themselves.

The city – which is Ukraine’s third largest – is strategically important to Putin because if he takes it, he could cut off the country from the sea.


A conductor was reportedly killed and a woman injured when a train evacuating refugees from Kramatorsk to Lviv, in the west, was caught in a shelling attack yesterday morning.

The train, which is thought to have been hit by bomb debris, was said to be carrying around 100 children who were fleeing the war.

Russian forces also targeted a children’s health centre and a monastery which was providing shelter to 1,000 refugees – including 200 children.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration, said the Russians had ‘crossed all possible limits of common sense and humanity’.

‘[They] should get the proper punishment for their hellish crimes,’ he added.

In Volnovakha, desperate citizens cowered in the filthy damp basement of a hospital over the weekend – as Russian shelling was said to have completely destroyed the city.

An unexploded bomb was lifted out of another building in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine on March 13

Days of heavy bombardment from air and ground assaults have reduced once towering buildings to piles of rubble.

Most of the citizens had managed to flee before the Russian onslaught. However, Mr Kyrylenko added: ‘In general, Volnovakha with its infrastructure as such no longer exists.’


Russia was accused of launching an illegal phosphorous bomb in the eastern city – around 60 miles from Luhansk – in an act branded a ‘crime against humanity’.

International law prohibits the use of white phosphorus shells in civilian areas, which burn fiercely and cause horrific injuries.

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova said the use of the bombs would amount to a ‘war crime’.

Oleksi Biloshytsky, head of police in the city, said the bombs caused ‘indescribable suffering and fires’.


Firefighters desperately searched for survivors after a bomb attack on a residential block killed at least one civilian.

Videos shared to social media showed smoke pouring from a nine-storey building and scenes of destruction following shelling in the northern city early yesterday morning.

Elena Yurchuk, who managed to flee the city, said she had seen families with children blown up and the hospital she worked in reduced to rubble.

‘I don’t know if I have a home or not,’ the nurse, 44, said.

‘Our city is under siege and we barely escaped.’

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