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Russian Strike On Mariupol Theater Leaves Unknown Number Of Casualties.

The theater in Mariupol after the air strike on March 16.

The theater in Mariupol after the air strike on March 16.

The mayor of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol says more than 1,000 people were sheltering in a theater that was hit by a Russian air strike on March 16, leaving many civilians trapped and an unknown number of casualties.

Live Briefing: Russia Invades Ukraine

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Mayor Vadym Boichenko posted the information on his Telegram channel early on March 17, calling the strike on the theater "another tragedy."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video message on March 17 that people had sought protection from shelling in the theater and it was now destroyed, but he said there was no information on fatalities yet. The nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch said earlier that "hundreds of civilians" were sheltering in the theater. "This raises serious concerns about what the intended target was in a city where civilians have already been under siege for days and telecommunications, power, water, and heating have been almost completely cut off," Belkis Wille from the rights group said. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the building was now "fully ruined" and said Russian forces "could not have not known this was a civilian shelter." Russia's Defense Ministry said its forces had not struck the building, RIA Novosti news agency said. Moscow denies targeting civilians despite ample evidence to the contrary documented by the media.

In the northern city of Chernihiv, Ukraine's prosecutor-general said Russian forces killed 10 people who were waiting in line for bread. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv had reported the incident earlier, saying Russian forces had shot the 10 victims. Russia denied the attack and said the incident was a hoax.
In Kyiv, at least one person was killed and three wounded after remains of a downed missile hit a residential building, Ukraine's emergency service said on March 17. The 16-story building was struck around 5 a.m. local time, the emergency service said in a statement. A 35-hour curfew that Mayor Vitali Klitschko implemented the day before has now been lifted. At the United Nations in New York, six countries have called for a Security Council meeting on Ukraine on March 17 ahead of an expected vote on a Russian resolution demanding protection for Ukrainian civilians "in vulnerable situations" that makes no mention of Moscow's responsibility for the war. "Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians," Britain's UN mission tweeted , announcing the call for the meeting that was joined by the United States, France and others.
"We will not vote for a Security Council resolution that does not recognise this crisis is Russia's doing," U.K. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said.

There were signs of progress at ongoing talks between Russia and Ukraine.
The Kremlin said negotiators were discussing a status for Ukraine similar to that of Austria or Sweden, both members of the European Union but not NATO. "Neutral status is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. "There are absolutely specific formulations which in my view are close to agreement." Vladimir Medinsky, Russia's chief negotiator, told state TV, "Ukraine is offering an Austrian or Swedish version of a neutral demilitarized state, but at the same time a state with its own army and navy." Zelenskiy has said Ukraine could accept international security guarantees that stopped short of its goal to join NATO. "My priorities during the negotiations are absolutely clear: the end of the war, guarantees of security, sovereignty, restoration of territorial integrity, real guarantees for our country, real protection for our country," Zelenskiy said in his video address.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP

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