Mariupol hospital airstrike

Russian war crime during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
47°05′47″N 37°32′01″E / 47.09645°N 37.53373°E / 47.09645; 37.53373Coordinates: 47°05′47″N 37°32′01″E / 47.09645°N 37.53373°E / 47.09645; 37.53373Date9 March 2022Deaths4 + 1 stillbirthInjuredat least 17Perpetrators Russian Armed Forces
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On 9 March 2022, the Russian Air Force bombed Maternity Hospital No 3, a hospital complex functioning both as a children's hospital and maternity ward in Mariupol, Ukraine,[1] during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, killing at least four people and injuring at least sixteen, and leading to at least one stillbirth.[2]

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy,[3] Josep Borrell, the European Union head of Foreign Affairs,[2] and British armed forces minister James Heappey[4] described the bombing as a war crime. On 10 March, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence claimed that bombing of the hospital was justified by the supposed presence of Ukrainian armed forces[5][6] at Mariupol Maternity Hospital No 1, as stated by Russian UN representative Vasily Nebenzya earlier, on 7 March.[1][7] Several media organizations dismissed the Russian claims as false.[8]

An OSCE report concluded the airstrike was a Russian war crime.


In 2022, during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian and pro-Russian forces set siege to the city. It was eventually agreed between Russian and Ukrainian authorities to allow civilians to evacuate from Mariupol and four other Ukrainian towns on 9 March 2022 in a humanitarian corridor.[9][needs update]


A children's and maternity hospital in Mariupol (Maternity Hospital No 3[1]) was bombed several times by Russian forces from the air during the ceasefire.[9][10]

Ukrainian authorities described the damage to the hospital as "colossal". Video footage following the attacks showed "much of the front of the building ... ripped away" and "mangled cars burning outside".[9] Hospital wards were "reduced to a wreckage, walls [had] collapsed, rubble cover[ed] medical equipment, windows [were] blown out and shattered glass [was] everywhere".[10]

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that people had "hidden" from the attack in time, minimising the number of casualties.[3]


On 9 March 2022, the Donetsk Oblast governor stated that 17 people, including women in labour, were injured in the bombing.[9][11] "Women, newborns and medical staff were killed" according to neurologist Oleksandra Shcherbet.[10] On 10 March, local authorities stated that one girl and two other people had been killed in the bombing.[2]

An unnamed pregnant woman photographed in the bombing was moved to another hospital and died after her child was stillborn. She had suffered numerous injuries in the bombing, including a crushed pelvis and detached hip, which contributed to the stillbirth of her child.[12] The doctors operated on them by candlelight.[13]

Another pregnant woman photographed in the bombing, Marianna Vyshegirskaya (née Podgurskaya), a popular Instagram blogger,[1] gave birth to a daughter the following day.[14] In early April, Vyshegirskaya filmed an interview in which she said that the hospital was not hit with an airstrike but rather "shelling", which the Associated Press described as contradicted by evidence.[15] Vyshegirskaya gave an interview to the BBC in May, where she said that the hospital was working and that no Ukrainian military was stationed in the maternity building, contradicting Russian claims that the hospital was not functional and had been taken over by soldiers.[16]

War crime claims

Josep Borrell, the European Union head of Foreign Affairs, described the bombing as a war crime.[2] James Heappey, British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, said that whether hitting the hospital was indiscriminate fire into a built-up area or a deliberate targeting, "it [was] a war crime".[4] Ukrainian leaders have echoed similar sentiments.[3]



Deputy Mayor of Mariupol, Sergei Orlov, stated, "We don't understand how it is possible in modern life to bomb [a] children's hospital."[10] Mariupol City Council described the bombing by Russian aircraft as deliberate.[10] Zelenskyy claimed that the attack constituted "proof that the genocide of Ukrainians [was] taking place".[3] Sergei Orlov, deputy mayor of Mariupol, described the attack as both a war crime and genocide.[17]


On 10 March, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence publicly claimed that the bombing was justified. According to Ukrayinska Pravda, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that the bombing of the hospital was a deliberate action. He stated, "A few days ago, at a UN Security Council meeting, the Russian delegation presented factual information that this maternity hospital had long been taken over by the Azov Battalion and other radicals and that all the women in labour, all the nurses and in general all the staff had been told to leave it. It was a base of the ultra-radical Azov Battalion."[5] Minister of Defence spokesperson Igor Konashenkov stated that "Absolutely no tasks to hit targets on the ground were accomplished by Russian military aircraft in the area of Mariupol" and that the "alleged airstrike" was a "completely staged provocation in order to maintain the anti-Russian public outcry in the Western audience".[6] Previously the Russian military had claimed that the Azov and Aidar Battalions were "delivering fire" from "schools, hospitals and kindergartens" in Mariupol.[18]

On 10 March 2022, Twitter removed a tweet from the Russian embassy in the UK which claimed that the Mariupol hospital attack was "fake" and that Marianna Vyshegirskaya, one of the victims was an "actress" by citing her blogging career, as a violation of Twitter rules. British politicians welcomed the move and accused the Russian embassy of disinformation.[19][15][20]

Meduza stated that the Russian representative to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, had on 7 March referred to Maternity Hospital No 1 (47°08′20″N 37°36′12″E / 47.13892°N 37.60337°E / 47.13892; 37.60337) as a hospital that he claimed was used by Ukrainian armed forces as a firing point, not Maternity Hospital No 3. Meduza described Lavrov as having confused Hospital No 1, referred to by Nebenzya, with the hospital that was bombed, Hospital No 3.[1][7]

On 22 March 2022, Russian journalist Alexander Nevzorov was charged under Russia's "false information" law after he published information about the Russian shelling of a maternity hospital in Mariupol.[21] Under a new law passed on 4 March, he could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.[22]


British prime minister Boris Johnson described the attack as "depraved".[9] Jen Psaki, press secretary of United States president Joe Biden, stated that "It is horrifying to see the ... barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians in a sovereign country."[9] Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, described the bombing as a "heinous war crime".[2] Cardinal Secretary of State of the Vatican City Pietro Parolin expressed dismay at the bombing, calling it an "unacceptable attack on civilians".[23] António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, wrote that the attack was "horrific" and that "this senseless violence must stop."[24]

The bombing received widespread condemnation in the international press: the Daily Mirror and The Independent described the act as "barbaric", the Daily Express and the Daily Mail called it "depraved", while The Guardian, the Financial Times and El País called it "atrocious".[25][26] Italian newspaper Il Giornale described Putin as a "war criminal", while la Repubblica decried "the death of innocents".[27][28]

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the Hellenic Republic tweeted on 18 March that Greece "is ready to rebuild the maternity hospital in Mariupol, the center of the Greek minority in Ukraine, a city dear to our hearts and symbol of the barbarity of the war."[29]

OSCE report

On April 13, 2022, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) published a report which covered the Mariupol hospital airstrike, confirming the maternity house was clearly identifiable and operational, and that the Russian forces therefore perpetrated a war crime.

The Mission therefore concludes that the hospital was destroyed by a Russian attack. Based upon Russian explanations, the attack must have been deliberate. No effective warning was given and no time-limit set. This attack therefore constitutes a clear violation of IHL and those responsible for it have committed a war crime.[30]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Definitely not 'staged' – False allegations about the maternity hospital airstrike in Mariupol, debunked". Meduza. 2022-03-12. Archived from the original on 2022-03-13. Retrieved 2022-03-13.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sandford, Alasdair (2022-03-10). "Ukraine war: Russian attack on Mariupol hospital a 'heinous war crime', says EU's Borrell". Euronews. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  3. ^ a b c d Zelenskyy, Volodymyr (2022-03-10). "Everything that occupiers doing with Mariupol is beyond atrocities – Zelensky's address (full text)". Ukrinform. Archived from the original on 2022-03-09. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  4. ^ a b Maloletka, Evgeniy; Chernov, Mstyslav (2022-03-10). "Russian airstrike on Mariupol children's hospital sparks global outrage". Global News. Archived from the original on 2022-03-11.
  5. ^ a b "Lavrov confirms Russia deliberately bombed maternity hospital in Mariupol". Ukrayinska Pravda. 2022-03-10. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  6. ^ a b "Russian troops don't hit hospital in Mariupol, it's Kyiv's information provocation - Russian Defense Ministry". Interfax. 2022-03-10. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  7. ^ a b Nebenzya, Vasily (2022-03-07). "Выступление и ответное слово Постоянного представителя В.А.Небензи на заседании СБ ООН по гуманитарной ситуации на Украине" [Statement and response by Permanent Representative Nebenzya to the UN Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine]. Russian UN Representative (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-13.
  8. ^ Sadeghi, McKenzie. "Fact check: Baseless claims that Russian attack on Mariupol hospital was 'staged'". USA TODAY.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Ukraine accuses Russia of bombing children's hospital in Mariupol". Al Jazeera English. 2022-03-09. Archived from the original on 2022-03-09. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  10. ^ a b c d e Ward, Victoria (2022-03-09). "'Atrocity' as maternity hospital in besieged Mariupol destroyed by Russian air strikes". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2022-03-09. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  11. ^ Sangal, Aditi; Vogt, Adrienne; Wagner, Meg; Ramsay, George; Guy, Jack; Regan, Helen (2022-03-10). "Russian forces bombed a maternity and children's hospital. Here's what we know about the siege of Mariupol". CNN. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-11. Police in the Donetsk region said according to preliminary information at least 17 people were injured, including mothers and staff. Ukraine's President said authorities were sifting through the rubble looking for victims.
  12. ^ "Ukraine war: Pregnant woman and baby die after hospital shelled". BBC News. 2022-03-14. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  13. ^ Bogner, Matilda (25 March 2022). "Situation in Ukraine. Statement delivered by the Head of Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine on the situation in Ukraine". Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  14. ^ "Ukraine war: Mariupol hospital attack: Pregnant woman hurt in bombing gives birth". BBC News. 2022-03-14. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  15. ^ a b Tulp, Sophia (2022-04-03). "Ukraine blogger video fuels false info on Mariupol bombing". Associated Press. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  16. ^ Spring, Marianna (17 May 2022). "Marianna Vyshemirsky: 'My picture was used to spread lies about the war'". BBC News. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  17. ^ Harding, Luke; Borger, Julian; Henley, Jon (2022-03-09). "Children under rubble after Russian airstrike on maternity hospital, says Zelenskiy". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2022-03-09. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  18. ^ "Nationalists in Mariupol setting up emplacements in schools, hospitals — Russian top brass". TASS. 5 March 2022. Archived from the original on 5 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  19. ^ Dan Milmo, Hibaq Farah (March 10, 2022). "Twitter removes Russian embassy tweet on Mariupol bombing". Guardian. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  20. ^ Alexandra White in New York. "Pregnant woman caught in air strike on Mariupol hospital dies". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  21. ^ "Russia: Authorities launch witch-hunt to catch anyone sharing anti-war views". Amnesty International. 30 March 2022.
  22. ^ "Top Russian Journalist Defiant in Face of Fake News Investigation". VOA News. 23 March 2022.
  23. ^ "Ukraine: Cardinal Parolin 'dismayed' at bombing of children's hospital - Vatican News". Vatican News. 2022-03-10. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  24. ^ "Invasion of Ukraine: Neighbours struggle with refugee influx; UN expresses 'horror' at Mariupol hospital attack". UN News. March 9, 2022. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  25. ^ "Friday's national newspaper front pages". Sky News. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  26. ^ "Periódicos de España. Toda la prensa de hoy.". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2022-03-08. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  27. ^ "3 La Repubblica". Il Post (in Italian). 2022-03-10. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  28. ^ "[Nazionale - 1] Giorn/Interni/Pag-Prima ... 10/03/22". Il Post (in Italian). 2022-03-10. Archived from the original on 2022-03-11. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  29. ^ Mayer, Emma (18 March 2022). "Greece Offers To Rebuild Mariupol Maternity Hospital After Russian Bombing". Newsweek. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  30. ^ OSCE, April 13, 2022, pp. 46–47


  • Wolfgang Benedek, Veronika Bílková, Marco Sassòli (April 13, 2022). "Report on Violations of international Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Committed in Ukraine since 24 February 2022" (PDF). OSCE. Warsaw.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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