Russia running short on guided missiles, firing indiscriminately - Ukraine

Shelling in Kyiv kills one as residential building hit • Nine soldiers handed over for Melitopol mayor • Theater allegedly hit in Mariupol

 A view shows a school building destroyed by an airstrike, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Merefa, in Kharkiv region Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 17, 2022.  (photo credit: Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)
A view shows a school building destroyed by an airstrike, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Merefa, in Kharkiv region Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 17, 2022.
(photo credit: Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)

Russia has almost depleted its tactical ballistic missiles and has resorted to using indiscriminate weapons, the Ukrainian military claimed on Thursday night.

"Due to the fact that the enemy used almost the entire set of cruise missiles of the 'Kalibr' and 'Iskander'  tactical missile systems during the first twenty days of the operation, he continues to launch missile and bomb strikes on infrastructure and housing neighborhoods of large cities using indiscriminate weapons," the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement.

Ukraine also noted that Russian forces continue to have "significant problems with logistics."

The Ukrainian military's allegation about Russia's armaments and the use of indiscriminate fire comes as they serious accusations of human rights violations have been leveled against the invading force.

Russia is guilty of violating international humanitarian law, the Ukrainian defense ministry has said in an operational update released on Thursday evening.

"In violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian occupiers continue to take hostages and kill civilians, shoot civilians, obstruct the movement of humanitarian convoys to evacuate the population through defined and mutually agreed "green corridors" and use civilian infrastructure for weapons and armaments," read the statement.

The statement also references the ongoing crisis in Mariupol which has come under almost non-stop Russian shelling. "The enemy continues to keep the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under siege and has moved to totally destruct civilian infrastructure, housing, and livelihoods, creating the preconditions for the city's deepening humanitarian crisis," it continues.

A total of 3,810 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, Interfax Ukraine cited a senior official as saying, a far smaller number than on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told a briefing that around 2,000 people managed to leave the besieged city of Mariupol. President Volodymyr Zelensky said a total of more than 60,000 people had been evacuated on Wednesday from a number of cities and towns.

A US national has been recorded among the dead in the aftermath of a Russian airstrike against the civilian population of Chernihiv, the city's police chief Volodymyr Nidzelskyi reported via Facebook on Thursday afternoon. 

According to available information, the strike killed and wounded multiple people, a US citizen among them.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed this information on Thursday evening.

Blinken on Thursday said he agrees with President Joe Biden that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine, adding that US experts are in the process of documenting and evaluating potential war crimes in Ukraine.

"Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime," Blinken told reporters, adding that he finds it "difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise" after the destruction over the past few weeks.

An official in the Mariupol mayor's office said on Thursday the city authorities did not yet have a casualty toll after what they said was a Russian bombardment of a theater in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

130 survivors were saved so far from the ruins of the theater, according to The Kyiv Independent, while rescue efforts are still underway. The theater housed hundreds of women and children. 

Russia's defense ministry on Wednesday denied it had carried out an air strike against a theater there, according to the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

At least one person was killed and three wounded after the remains of a downed missile hit a residential building in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the country's emergency service said on Thursday.

At least 1 killed, 3 wounded as missile hits residential building in Kyiv, March 17, 2022 (credit: Anadolu Agency via Reuters)

The 16-story building was struck at 5:02 a.m. local time, it said in a statement, adding that 30 people have been evacuated so far and a fire has been put out. Air raids were sounded throughout the night in Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Kropyvnytsky, Dnipro, Sumy, Kharkiv, Cherkasy and Kryvuy Rig.

Russian casualties of the war so far amount to 14,000 personnel killed, 86 aircraft.108 helicopters, 444 tanks, 1433 armored vehicles of different types, 3 vessels, and 864 vehicles.

The World Health Organization has verified 43 attacks on health care in Ukraine that have killed 12 people and injured dozens more, including health workers, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the UN Security Council on Thursday.

"In any conflict, attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law," Tedros told the 15-member council, without specifying who was to blame for the attacks.

Many residents of the separatist Donetsk region are left without water due to shelling by Ukrainian Armed Forces (ZSU), according to Russian media. The report also states that last month, water supply in the city was reduced by 20%-25%. 

Su-25 attack aircraft of Russian Aerospace Forces had destroyed warehouses with ZSU weapons and ammunition of Ukrainian Armed Forces on Wednesday night, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Russian military aviation also destroyed a division of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems belonging to Ukrainian forces, according to Russian media citing Russian Defense Minister and Major-General Igor Konashenkov. 

 A view shows a school building destroyed by an airstrike, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Merefa, in Kharkiv region Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 17, 2022.  (credit: Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS) A view shows a school building destroyed by an airstrike, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Merefa, in Kharkiv region Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 17, 2022. (credit: Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)

Another shelling hit an educational institution on Merefa in the Kharkiv region, the Ukrainian Internal Affairs Ministry stated on Thursday. The building was partially destroyed and ignited. Rescue service arrived at the scene shortly thereafter; no casualties were reported.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has largely stalled on all fronts, with Russian forces suffering heavy losses and making minimal progress on land, sea or air in recent days, British military intelligence said on Thursday.

"Ukrainian resistance remains staunch and well-coordinated," the British Defense Ministry said. "The vast majority of Ukrainian territory, including all major cities, remains in Ukrainian hands."

Russia's armed forces hit a military depot in the Rivne region of western Ukraine on Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday, citing the defense ministry.

High-precision missiles hit a depot in Sarny, Rivne region, destroying storage facilities for missiles and ammunition, the ministry said.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Thursday that Ukraine was purposefully preparing for a massacre in Donbas after alleged encouragement by the US and other Western nations. He also claimed that these plans were stopped by Russian Armed Forces.

Melitopol mayor abduction 

Ukraine handed over nine captured Russian soldiers to secure the freedom of the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who was detained last week, the Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted a senior official as saying on Wednesday.

Zelensky's office said earlier that Mayor Ivan Fedorov had been released but gave no details.

 Firefighters work at residential buildings damaged by shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on March 16, 2022.  (credit: Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS) Firefighters work at residential buildings damaged by shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on March 16, 2022. (credit: Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)

"Ivan Fedorov was released from Russian captivity... [in exchange] for him, Russia received nine captured soldiers who were born in 2002 and 2003. These are actually children," Interfax Ukraine quoted the president's press aide Darya Zarivnaya as saying.

Ukraine had said Fedorov was kidnapped last Friday by Russian forces. 

 Russia's invasion of Ukraine, near Lviv (credit: REUTERS) Russia's invasion of Ukraine, near Lviv (credit: REUTERS)

Casualties

Zelensky said that at least 103 children have been killed since the war began in a video posted on Facebook on Wednesday night.

American intelligence sources estimated that Russia has lost over 7,000 soldiers in the war so far, according to The Kyiv Independent.

Refugees

About 13 buses with approximately 300 refugees from Mariupol arrived at the Russian border in the Rostov-on-Donregion, Russian media reported on Thursday. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted the same day that more than three million Ukrainians have fled the country, and demanded that Russia stop the invasion.

Ukraine hopes to evacuate civilians through nine "humanitarian corridors" on Thursday from cities including the encircled port city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

About 4,500 Ukrainian refugees have been registered in Spain since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, but the real number is much higher, Spain's Migration Minister Jose Luis Escriva said on Thursday.

"It is difficult to know the real number of refugees because many go directly to their families here in Spain without registering with the authorities," the minister said.

The majority of European countries have offered to take in refugees in the past weeks to help alleviate the pressure on Ukraine's neighbors as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues.

Poland has taken in more than 1.8 million Ukrainians so far while Romania and Moldova have registered 435,432 and 337,215, respectively, following the invasion.

Sanctions

Canada closed its skies to planes from Belarus on Wednesday night.