Russia touts aid for Ukrainian cities after weeks of bombing citizens

After devastating shelling of Mariupol, Russia said it gave 1,000 food kits to local residents

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Russia’s defense ministry last week boasted of providing aid to Ukrainian cities it has spent weeks bombarding with missiles. 

The U.S. government, in coordination with its European allies, declared Wednesday that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine by purposefully targeting buildings known to be sheltering civilians.

A woman walks outside a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022. 

A woman walks outside a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.  (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

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Russia has pummeled the southeastern city of Mariupol, hitting not only military targets but apartment buildings, children’s and maternity hospitals and a theater marked with the word "children" in large white letters that could be read from the sky.

Security officials said it was an obvious non-combatant location that was estimated to be sheltering around 1,000 people. 

Ukrainian authorities have estimated that roughly 300 people were killed in that attack.

But on Thursday Russia's defense ministry took to Telegram to tout the humanitarian support that its troops were purportedly supplying civilians in the southeastern city.

"Servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces delivered a batch of humanitarian aid to Mariupol," the Russian Ministry of Defense said. "In a central district of Mariupol, local residents received around 1,000 food kits. Russian and DPR servicemen ensured the safety of the residents who came to the humanitarian aid distribution point."

The post included a video of Russian soldiers distrusting boxed food kits and water as Ukrainians waited in line with their children. 

A man carries his child away from a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine.

A man carries his child away from a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)


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The ministry posted similar images of Russian soldiers distributing food supplies to civilians outside the capital city of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv.

The defense ministry claimed that civilians who "expressed a desire to leave the settlement" outside Chernihiv were "evacuated by the military police."  

Russia has claimed its troops illegally invaded Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians who were allegedly being oppressed by the Ukrainian government. 

The United Nations and NATO have repeatedly struck down these claims as false attempts to justify its war. 

Russia is now said to be reconsidering its strategy in Ukraine after fighting has continued for more than four weeks and Russian ground forces have failed to make major advances. 

President Biden in an impassioned speech from Warsaw, Poland, Saturday said Putin has already failed in Ukraine. 

"Notwithstanding the brutality of Vladimir Putin, let there be no doubt that this war has already been a strategic failure for Russia," Biden said. "Putin thought Ukrainians would roll over and not fight. 

"Instead, Russian forces have met their match with brave and stiff Ukrainian resistance," he added. 

A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position in Mariupol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 12, 2022. 

A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position in Mariupol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 12, 2022.  (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

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The U.S. government has assessed that nearly 10,000 Russian troops have been killed since the onslaught of the invasion and another 15,000 have been injured. 

The United Nations has reported more than 1,030 civilian deaths and 1,650 injuries, though actual figures are expected to be substantially higher.