Greece Offers to Rebuild Mariupol Maternity Hospital After Russian Bombing

Greece's prime minister said on Friday that the country was prepared to help Ukraine rebuild a maternity hospital in Mariupol that was bombed by Russian forces.

An airstrike on March 9 struck the maternity and children's hospital providing refuge to adults and children, leaving three dead and 17 wounded while causing global outrage. Foreign officials and media quickly condemned the attack.

Experts told Newsweek in an earlier report that the bombing is a "horrific" example of a potential war crime committed by Vladimir Putin's forces, and it is one of many that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened an investigation on since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted on Friday that Greece "is ready to rebuild the maternity hospital in Mariupol, the center of the Greek minority in Ukraine, a city dear to our hearts and symbol of the barbarity of the war."

Mariupol, along with several villages surrounding the city, is reportedly home to 120,000 ethnic Greeks, according to the Greek City Times.

"We thank European society and especially Greece for their help," Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko, told Newsweek. "As 90 percent of our buildings were either damaged or destroyed, this initiative is of great importance to us."

Andryushchenko said that Mariupol is "deeply concerned about the impunity of the Russian regime's crimes over the refusal of direct military assistance and open skies over Ukraine."

"For now," Andryushchenko added, "we don't have official confirmation of Greece's intentions to rebuild the hospital—due to the war, they cannot be obtained at the city hall level. However, we tend to trust this information and for all the residents of Mariupol, the help of the Greece gives great hope that after the victory we will rebuild our city as soon as possible."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on Twitter after the attack to show the aftermath of the hospital, writing, "Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital," 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."

Viral images of the attack on the hospital showed a bloodied pregnant woman being carried through a courtyard by emergency responders.

Russian officials have expressed that the hospital had been a base for radical fighters, and that the statements describing the dead and wounded civilians are "pathetic shrieks" from Russia's enemies. Officials added that the hospital was targeted because far-right radicals had taken it over, according to the Associated Press.

Ukraine and Greece have had long-standing diplomatic relations, and Zelensky tweeted on Monday that he and Prime Minister Mitsotakis had met and "Reported on the course of countering Russian aggression," he wrote.

Zelensky stated, "We appreciate defense, humanitarian support" from Greece, and that Mitsotakis "Stressed the need to ensure the work of humanitarian corridors, especially in Mariupol."

Greece is not the only country coming to Mariupol's aid, as Italy on Thursday said that the government was prepared to invest in the resources in order to help Ukraine rebuild a theater in the city that was sheltering civilians when it was bombed on Wednesday.

The theater is believed to have been hosting as many as 1,200 civilians seeking refuge at the time of the bombing, and a rescue mission was launched on Thursday as hundreds were believed to have been alive beneath the rubble.

"There is something that seems particularly egregious and particularly horrific about attacks on facilities that are designed to care for the most vulnerable people in society," Anthony Dworkin, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Newsweek in a previous report.

Newsweek reached out to Ukraine's and Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

Update 3/21/22, 9:22 a.m.: This story was updated with comment from an advisor for Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko.

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Greece has stated they are prepared to help Ukraine rebuild the maternity hospital in Mariupol that was bombed by Russian forces on March 9. Above is a photograph taken on March 7, 2022 shows destruction following shelling in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv. SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images