A maternity ward in the recently liberated southern city of Kherson was among 33 civilian targets bombarded by Russian shelling on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Russian forces abandoned the city last month in one of Ukraine’s most significant gains in the 11-month war.
But the joy of Kherson residents over their liberation has quickly given way to fear amid relentless Russian shelling from the eastern bank of the Dnipro, and many have since fled.
Workers carry furniture from the hospital maternity unit damaged after a Russian shelling in Kherson
A medic works at the hospital maternity unit in Kherson, southern Ukraine, earlier on Wednesday
Russia’s foreign minister insisted he is convinced that Moscow will achieve its goals in Ukraine thanks to its ‘patience’
Volodymyr Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko, wrote on Telegram today that two babies had been born on the maternity ward prior to the shelling yesterday.
He added that staff at the hospital were able to complete a caesarean before evacuating to a shelter.
Mr Tymoshenko said: ‘Miraculously, no one was hurt.’
His comments come as Russia’s foreign minister insisted he is convinced that Moscow will achieve its goals in Ukraine thanks to its ‘patience’ and ‘perseverance’.
In an interview on state television, he said: ‘I am convinced that thanks to our perseverance, patience and determination, we will defend the noble goals that are vital for our people and our country.’
He reiterated Moscow’s stance that for talks to resume Kyiv should recognise the annexation by Russia of four Ukrainian regions.
A worker cleans up shattered glass after Russian shelling of the hospital maternity unit in Kherson
A maternity ward in the recently liberated southern city of Kherson was among 33 civilian targets bombarded by Russian shelling
Svitlana Klishchytska reacts at the grave of her daughter, Natalia Ryaskova during a funeral ceremony in the southern city of Kherson
Lavrov said: ‘Our absolute priority is four new Russian regions. They should become free from the threat of Nazification that they have faced for many years.’
Russia does not currently control the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in full, but Lavrov confirmed that was Moscow’s ultimate goal.
He said that while Moscow wanted the conflict to be over, Russia would take its time to achieve its goals on the battlefield.
Lavrov added: ‘We are in no hurry. We would like to end this war as soon as possible, which the West was preparing and, as a result, unleashed against us through Ukraine,” he added.
‘We are a patient people. We will protect our compatriots, citizens and lands that have been Russian for centuries.’
Elsewhere, fighting for the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut has intensified over Christmas after Russian armed forces deployed a fresh wave of troops and armoured vehicles on the front lines amid a barrage of new rocket attacks.
The heaviest clashes are around the eastern city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, which Russia has been trying to storm for months, and further north in the cities of Svatove and Kreminna, where Ukraine is trying to break Russian defensive lines.
A harrowing video circulating on social media purports to show a ‘human wave’ of Russian soldiers, many of them believed to be mercenaries from the infamous Wagner group, being blown to pieces as they flee through the countryside near Bakhmut in scenes reminiscent of the First World War.
A unit of Ukrainian border guards hunker down in trenches on the frontline on Boxing Day in Bakhmut, Ukraine
The city sits on an important confluence of supply routes and, when fighting started at least, was seen as a vital staging point for assaults further into Donbas – particularly the nearby cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.
Now, though, the battle is more symbolic than practical. Most analysts agree the blood price that Russia has paid trying to take Bakhmut – thought to be more than 100 troops per day – is not worth the value of capturing it.
Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, calling it a ‘special military operation’ to ‘denazify’ his neighbour, which he said was a threat to Russia.
His country set out to subdue Ukraine within days, but its forces were defeated on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, in the spring and forced to withdraw from other areas in the autumn.
Putin responded by summoning hundreds of thousands of reservists for the first time since the Second World War.
The Russian president has repeatedly spoken of a desire for peace talks in comments in recent days, but his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov made clear Russia has preconditions, including that Ukraine must formally recognise Russian ownership of several occupied regions Putin claims to have annexed.
Ukraine says it would never agree to relinquish land, and Ukrainian president Zelensky has been promoting a ten-point peace plan, urging world leaders to hold a Global Peace Summit.