Kramatorsk, Ukraine — While Russian President Vladimir Putin defended hison Monday, lauding his forces during a parade in Moscow to commemorate his country’s role in the defeat of the Nazis during World War II, rescuers were still digging through the rubble of a school building that Ukrainian officials say was flattened by a Russian bomb over the weekend. Russian forces are — where dozens of civilians were sheltering — in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, which is bearing the brunt of Putin’s war.
The regional governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk province said the school in the village of Bilohorivka was set alight by Saturday’s bombing. He said rescue crews managed to save about 30 people, but dozens more were feared dead amid the debris as there were believed to be about 90 civilians taking shelter there when the building was hit.
As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata reports, Russian forces continue to pummel front-line cities and towns across the two regions of the Donbas, Luhansk and Donetsk. As the bombs continue to fall, many are already calling the attack on the school in Bilohorivka yet another.
The building was reduced to smoldering rubble after what Ukrainian authorities say was a direct hit. Terrified families were among those who had sought shelter from Russia’s bombardment in the basement of the school.
D’Agata says he and his team have found evidence of indiscriminate Russian shelling everywhere they’ve visited across eastern Ukraine. The battle-scarred village of Velyka Novosilka, which sits right on the warpath Russian forces advancing from the south, is no exception.
A U.S. defense official tells CBS News that about 10,000 Russian troops are believed to be on the move north of Mariupol, massing on the outskirts of Velyka Novosilka which, judging from the heavy damage, has clearly come under repeated attack already.
D’Agata came upon residents Iryna Ilyenko and her neighbor Valentyna Hadjynova surveying the ruins of their homes. Even as they looked at the damage, the crack of mortar fire and artillery echoed constantly around the village.
Ilyenko told CBS News she couldn’t leave her bedridden husband behind, so “whatever God has prepared from me, let it be.”
Northeast of the village, the city of Kramatorsk is also in the firing line. Residential neighborhoods there have already been devastated by Russian firepower.
Walking through the ruins, D’Agata saw children’s toys and other personal belongings — evidence of more lives torn apart by Putin’s relentless drive to seize a vast chunk of eastern Ukraine for Russia.
Ukraine’s forces have managed to slow down Russia’s ground offensive, but they’ve got little defense against Putin’s artillery and airstrikes, and the intensity of Russia’s bombardment has only worsened by the day.