Dozens were feared killed on Sunday after a Russian airstrike in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine reportedly hit a school building sheltering around 90 people.
Serhiy Gaidai, the regional governor of Luhansk, said Sunday that 30 people were rescued after the Russian bomb hit the school in the village of Bilohorivka Saturday afternoon but "60 people were likely to have died under the rubble."
"The fire was extinguished after nearly four hours, then the rubble was cleared, and, unfortunately, the bodies of two people were found," said Gaidai.
The deadly airstrike came as Russian forces continued concentrating their assault on eastern Ukraine after failing to seize control of major cities, including the capital Kyiv. Thousands of civilians, including many children, have been killed or wounded since Russia launched its invasion in late February and millions more have been displaced, a massive humanitarian crisis.
On Friday, the global human rights group Amnesty International accused Russian forces of committing war crimes during their recent attacks on buildings outside the Ukrainian capital.
"Knowingly launching direct attacks on civilian objects or disproportionate attacks constitute war crimes," the group said.
The devastating war is now in its third month with no end in sight as the Russian military continues its offensive and Ukraineheavily armed with weapons from Western powersattempts to drive back Moscow's forces.
"Since failing to capture Ukraines capital, Russia has focused its offensive in the Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting since 2014 and occupy some territory," the Associated Press reported Sunday. "To demonstrate success, Moscow was aiming to complete its conquest of the besieged port city of Mariupol in time for Victory Day celebrations on Monday. All the remaining women, children, and older civilians who had been sheltering with Ukrainian fighters in a sprawling steel mill that is the citys last defense holdout were evacuated Saturday."
On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to meet virtually with G7 leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whoaccording to a Ukrainian newspaperpressured Zelenskyy to abandon peace negotiations with Russia during a surprise visit to Kyiv last month.
During an online forum on Friday, Zelenskyy outlined his demands for jumpstarting diplomatic talks that have been at a standstill for weeks. The Washington Post reported that the Ukrainian president called for "restoration of preinvasion borders, the return of more than 5 million refugees, membership in the European Union, and accountability from Russian military leaders before Kyiv would consider laying down its arms."
Ahead of the G7 talks on Sunday, Johnson announced that the British government will provide Ukraine with $1.6 billion in additional military aid.
In recent weeks, foreign policy analysts and peace campaigners have grown increasingly concerned that the conflict in Ukraine is developing into an immensely dangerous proxy war between the West and Russia, one that risks direct confrontation between nuclear-armed powers.
Speaking to Fox News on Friday, hawkish Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.) helped vindicate those fears by declaring that "we're not just at war to support the Ukrainians."
"We're fundamentally at waralthough it's somewhat through a proxywith Russia," said Moulton, "and it's important that we win."
Lindsey German, convenor of the U.K.-based Stop the War Coalition, warned in a statement Sunday that "the war in Ukraine is becoming a proxy war between Russia and NATO."
"Our government is sending weapons and Joe Biden has promised another $33 billion for military aid," German said. "This is leading to much greater threats of war, which we are at the center of resisting."