Tearful evacuees from the port city of destruction described how "battles occurred over every street"weeks after the siege began.
Russian forces in eastern and southern Ukraine would be able to connect if Mariupol falls. However, Western military analysts warn that even if Mariupol is captured, the troops fighting one block at a given time to take control of the city may not be able to secure Russian advances on other fronts.
Three weeks after the invasion, analysts and governments in Western countries see the conflict changing to a war against attrition. Bogged down Russian forces launch long-range missiles at civilian and military bases, while the Ukrainian forces conduct hit-and-run operations and attempt to cut off their supply lines.
According to President Volodymyr Zeleskyy, Ukrainians have not welcomed Russian soldiers with flowers. Instead, they have "weapons in the hands."
Moscow cannot hope to be the ruler of the country, he said, given the hostilities of the Ukrainians toward Russia.
Officials reported the strike at the art school as the second attack on a public building in Mariupol where residents sought refuge. A bomb exploded at a theater where over 1,000 people were sheltering on Wednesday.
The Associated Press was unable to independently confirm the number of casualties from the attack on schools. Officials from Ukraine have not provided any updates on the search of the theater's location since Friday's announcement that at least 130 people were rescued and the rest were trapped in rubble.
Officials from the city and aid groups claim that food, water, and electricity are running low in Mariupol. Fighting has also prevented humanitarian convoys. Communication is cut off.
Over three weeks, the strategic port at the Sea of Azov has been under heavy bombardment. It has witnessed the most horrific horrors of war. Officials from the city claimed that at least 2,300 people were killed, some of them buried in mass graves.
Some escaped Mariupol and embraced their relatives as they arrived in Lviv by train on Sunday, approximately 1,100 km (680 miles) west.
"Battles were fought over every street. Olga Nikitina said that every house was now a target. She was hugged by her brother when she got off the train. "Gunfire blew the windows out. The temperature in the apartment was below freezing
Maryna Galla and her 13-year old son managed to escape with a narrow escape. She claimed that she spent three weeks in the basement of a cultural centre, where there were about 250 others. There was no electricity, water, or gas.
"We fled (home), because shells struck the houses across the street. There was no roof. Galla stated that there were many people who had been injured and that her father, mother and grandparents remained behind. They "don't even know we are gone."
After ordering the February 24 invasion of his neighbor, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion. However, unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance has thwarted Putin's plans for quick victory. Recent days have seen Russian forces enter Mariupol, cutting it from the sea and destroying a huge steel plant. However, taking the city could be costly.
In a briefing, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War stated that the block-by-block fighting at Mariupol is costing the Russian military initiative and time.
The think tank stated bluntly that Russia failed to seize Kyiv's capital and other cities quickly and that its slow invasion is creating conditions for a "very violent, bloody" impasse.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the Ukrainian resistance means Putin's forces on the ground "essentially stalled."
Austin said that the move had led to Austin moving his forces into a woodchipper.
Russian bombardment has claimed the lives of hundreds of children, men, and women in Ukraine's largest cities. Millions fled to the country or moved into underground shelters.
Zelenskyy also pointed out that a Russian missile hit Babi Yar, the site in Kyiv where more than 30,000 Jews were killed in 1941 by Nazis. It is now Ukraine's main Holocaust Memorial. The president, who is Jewish, added that "you know what this spot means, where victims of the Holocaust have buried."
Regional Gov. Dmytro Zhyvytskyy announced that Sumy, a hard-hit northeastern town, had managed to evacuate 71 orphaned children through a humanitarian corridor. Dmytro Zivytskyy stated Sunday. He stated that the country would expel the orphans, who are most in need of constant medical attention.
More than 20 children are being held by Ukrainian surrogate moms in Kyiv. They are waiting for their parents to get them into the war zone. Nurses are caring for the infants, some of whom are just days old, while they wait for their parents to enter the war zone.
At least five civilians were killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv (the second-largest city in Ukraine), on September 9.
According to the British Defense Ministry, Russia's failure in Ukraine to seize control of its airspace has "significantly hampered their operational progress", forcing them to rely upon weapons from Russia.
In televised remarks, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich stated that at least 40 Ukrainian soldiers were killed by a Russian missile attack on their barracks in Mykolaiv's Black Sea port. He said that the missiles were fired from neighboring Kherson, leaving no time for them to respond.
Separately, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that a Kinzhal hypersonic weapon hit a Ukrainian fuel depot near Kostiantynivka. According to the Russian military, Saturday's attack on a Carpathian Mountain ammunition depot was the first use of a Kinzhal in combat.
Russia claims that the Kinzhal is carried by MiG-31 fighter planes and has a range up to 2,000 km (about 1,250 miles). It also flies at 10x the speed of sound. It has not been confirmed by the Pentagon for use in Ukraine, however.
Western analysts dismissed the significance of the hypersonic weapon, saying that it was not a game-changer, but rather a message of intimidation, deterrence, toward Ukraine and the West. Valeriy Akimenko is a senior research associate at Conflict Studies Research Centre in England.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov stated that Kalibr cruise missiles were also launched by Russian warships in Caspian Sea. They were part of the attack on Kostiantynivka fuel storage depot.
While the U.N. has confirmed the deaths of 902 civilians in the conflict, it admits that the true toll could be much higher. It claims almost 3.4 million people have fled Ukraine.
Although estimates of Russian deaths vary, conservative figures are in the low thousands.
According to Michael Clarke (ex-head of the British-based Royal United Services Institute), a defense thinktank, Russia would require 800,000 troops to take control of Ukraine for a long period.
Clarke stated that unless the Russians are intent to be totally genocidal -- and they could flatten every major city, and Ukrainians would rise up against Russian occupation -- there'll be constant guerrilla warfare.
Although Russia and Ukraine have had several rounds of negotiations, they remain divided on many issues. Zelenskyy stated that he would be willing to give up Ukraine's application to NATO, but he wants Russia to provide security guarantees. Moscow insists on Ukraine's total demilitarization.
Mariupol authorities claimed that nearly 40,000 people fled the city within the past week. Most of them were driving their vehicles, even though they had been bombarded. This is almost 10% of the city’s prewar population, which was 430,000.
Mariupol's council claimed Saturday that Russian soldiers had forced several thousand people to relocate to Russia, mainly women and children. The claim was not confirmed by the Associated Press.
Russia-backed separatists from eastern Ukraine claimed Sunday that 2,973 people had been evacuated out of Mariupol since March 5th, including 541 within the last 24 hours.
Some Russians have also fled their country in the face of a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent. Russia has detained thousands of antiwar protesters and closed down independent media outlets.