2 and 60 killed in Russian bombing of a school in Ukraine – Governor

  • Luhansk governor says Russia bombed a school that housed 90 people
  • Civilians trapped in Azovstal were evacuated
  • Britain has pledged $1.6 billion for more military support and aid
  • G7 leaders speak with Zelensky to show unity

Kyiv (Reuters) – Russia’s bombing of a school in the eastern Ukrainian village of Belhorivka killed two people and left 60 dead in the rubble, the governor of the Luhansk region said on Sunday.

Governor Serhiy Gedayi said Russian forces dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on the school where about 90 people were sheltering, causing a fire that engulfed the building.

“The fire was extinguished after about four hours, then the rubble was removed and, unfortunately, the bodies of two people were found,” Gaidai wrote in the Telegram messaging app.

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

“Thirty people were evacuated from the rubble, seven of them were injured. It is probable that 60 people died under the rubble of the buildings.”

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the news.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russian forces of targeting civilians and committing war crimes, charges Moscow rejects.

Russia’s 10-week war on Ukraine has killed thousands, destroyed cities and forced 5 million Ukrainians to flee abroad.

The besieged port city of Mariupol, a strategic target for Russian forces, was virtually destroyed, with the last 300 civilians trapped in the bombed Azovstal steel plants, and evacuated on Saturday. Evacuation efforts will now focus on getting the wounded and paramedics out of the steel mills.

Ukrainian fighters at the factory have vowed not to surrender and Russian forces seek to declare victory in the protracted battle of the vast factory in time for Monday’s Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, which commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. .

The Soviet-era Azovstal steel plant, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the main port city, has become a symbol of resistance to Russian efforts to seize swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden and other leaders of the Group of Seven are set to hold a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday in a display of unity ahead of D-Day, as President Vladimir Putin inspects a massive military parade in Moscow.

“Putin’s brutal attack is not only causing untold destruction in Ukraine – it is threatening peace and security across Europe,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on Saturday.

Britain pledged another 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6 billion), double its previous spending commitments and what it said was the country’s highest spending on the conflict since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Putin’s Victory Day speech may provide clues to the future of the war he launched on February 24 with a failed attack on the capital, Kyiv. Russia’s efforts suffered from logistical and equipment problems and great losses in the face of fierce resistance. Read more

CIA Director William Burns said Putin was convinced that “doubling up” the conflict would improve the outcome for Russia. Read more

“He’s in a state of mind that he doesn’t think he can handle the loss,” Burns said at an event in the Financial Times.

Other observers suggest that Putin may announce mission accomplished. Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency cited reports that the Kremlin was in Mariupol preparing for a D-Day parade in the devastated city.

The Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment on what Putin might say in the speech, which will be delivered from Red Square in front of Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum.

Moscow describes the war as a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of the anti-Russian nationalism stoked by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched a war without provocation.

Mariupol, which lies between Crimea that Moscow seized in 2014 and parts of eastern Ukraine seized by Russian-backed separatists that year, is key to linking the two Russian-controlled regions and blocking Ukrainian exports.

On Sunday, the Ukrainian General Staff said that Ukrainian units near the Azovstal plant continued the siege and that Russia continued its offensive using artillery and tanks in Mariupol.

The Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine aims to establish complete control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions – where pro-Russian separatists have declared breakaway republics – and to maintain the land corridor between these lands and Crimea.

Ukrainian forces in the two regions repelled nine enemy attacks, destroying 19 tanks, 20 combat vehicles and a unit of enemy special engineering equipment, the General Staff reported on Sunday. Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

Pavel Politiuk reports in Kyiv and my Reuters bureau. writing by Michael Berry; Editing by William Mallard

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.