ussia sparked an outpouring of outrage when their rockets destroyed a maternity hospital in Mariupol, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
President Volodomyr Zelensky spoke of the horror of the attack as he said children were hidden underneath the wreckage after the “direct strike by Russian troops”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the condemnation of the attack on social media, his words echoed by the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Devastating footage posted on Twitter showed a building destroyed and emergency services on the scene.
Mariupol City Council said the destruction at the maternity hospital was “collossal”. It added: “The Russian occupying forces have dropped several bombs on the children’s hospital. The destruction is colossal.”
Zelensky tweeted: “People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?
“Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”
In an interview with Sky News, Zelensky said the Russian attackers want the Ukrainians to feel “like animals” without food or water.
He said: “They want us to feel like animals because they blocked our cities… because they don’t want our people to get some food or water.
“We can’t stop all of this alone. Only if the world will unite around Ukraine. Don’t wait for me to ask you several times, a million times, to close the sky. You have to phone us, to our people who lost their children, and say ‘sorry we didn’t do it yesterday’.”
Mariupol, in the south of Ukraine, has been bombarded by Russian attacks since Putin launched an invasion of the country on February 24.
The city has been surrounded by Russian forces for days.
Boris Johnson condemned the attack on the maternity hospital and he vowed to hold Putin to account for his “terrible crimes”.
He wrote on Twitter: “There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless. The UK is exploring more support for Ukraine to defend against airstrikes and we will hold Putin to account for his terrible crimes.”
The Foreign Secretary later said the Russian attack on a hospital is “absolutely abhorrent” during a press briefing.
The Red Cross has described conditions in Mariupol as “apocalyptic” as residents run out of essential supplies, including water and electricity.
There are multiple reports of bodies being left lying in the street uncollected.
Previous attempts to establish safe evacuation corridors in the city have largely failed due to attacks by Russian forces.
An attempt to evacuate civilians and deliver badly needed food, water and medicine failed on Tuesday as Ukrainian officials said Russian forces fired on a convoy before it reached the city.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia on Wednesday of holding the city’s 400,000 residents hostage by shelling it despite efforts to create a safe evacuation corridor.
“Almost 3,000 newborn babies lack medicine and food,” he wrote on Twitter. “Russia continues holding hostage over 400,000 people in Mariupol, blocks humanitarian aid and evacuation. Indiscriminate shelling continues.”
Defence secretary Ben Wallace on Wednesday confirmed the UK had supplied Ukraine with over 3,600 javelin anti-tank missiles.
The Cabinet minister told MPs the Government would continue to provide weapons to Ukraine to bolster its defence against the Russian invasion.
Mr Wallace said that a total of 3,615 anti-tank missiles had been given to the Ukrainian army so far, with a further shipment of Starstreak portable anti-air missiles to be delivered.