Evidence suggests close to 600 civilians died in the Russian airstrike on the Mariupol drama theater on March 16 that horrified the world and helped galvanize support for Ukraine’s effort to repel the invasion, according to an Associated Press investigation.
The theater had been used as a bomb shelter in the early days of Russia’s siege of the port city and had large warnings visible from the sky reading, “children.”
AP’s death total is twice the city government’s estimate and marks the deadliest single known attack against civilians in the war. AP said its journalists drew on accounts of 23 survivors, rescuers and people intimately familiar with the shelter operating at the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater. It also used two sets of floor plans of the theater, photos and video taken inside before, during and after that day.
Most witnesses said around 1,000 people were in the theater at the time of the assault.
Dozens of nations have provided military and/or humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The U.S. has committed $3.7 billion in weapons and other aid and President Joe Biden is seeking an additional $33 billion from Congress.
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►The United Kingdom is sending a military support package worth almost $400 million to Ukraine. The package will include electronic warfare equipment, a radar system, GPS jamming equipment, heavy-lift supply drones and night vision devices.
►Russia’s military has struck Ukrainian railroad infrastructure across the country, according to Ukrainian officials.
Top Pentagon leaders warned Congress that Russia’s military is learning from its mistakes as the war shifts into a new phase, which will affect how the U.S. supports Ukraine. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday that Ukrainian forces will need more tanks and mechanized vehicles as fighting tightens in on the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.
Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told senators that Russia failed to train young commanders, which led to a top-heavy organization that hasn’t been as effective as Ukraine’s forces.
But Austin said, “they will learn from what they did in the early stages of this fight. And we’ll see them improve their logistical efforts. And we’ll see them improve their massing of fires and that sort of business. But some things they won’t be able to correct.”
Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees have fled to Mexico’s capital, in hopes of being able to enter the United States next. About 500 Ukrainians were waiting in a Mexico City refugee camp Tuesday, with 50 to 100 more arriving each day. The camp, set up with large tents across a dusty field, has only been open a week.
Over 5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded. The United States in March pledged to accept 100,000 Ukrainians and individuals who have been displaced due to the war, and the Biden administration extended the eligibility for Ukrainians for temporary protected status in mid-April, which allows them to stay in the United States for 18 months and apply for work permits.
Giorgi Mikaberidze, 19, arrived in Tijuana on April 25 but found the U.S. border closed. He went from being just yards from the United States to some 600 miles away in the Mexico City area. He said he traveled to Mexico alone.
“It’s very difficult to wait. We don’t know how the program will work,” he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press