The large theater in the center of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol sheltered large numbers of women and children. Huge signs marked it with the Russian word “CHILDREN” to protect it. The theater was demolished by a bomb. Yesterday President Biden called Putin a “war criminal.” Putin was outraged. He said this insult was “unforgivable.”

The New York Times described the aftermath of the bombing:

Rescuers on Thursday began pulling some survivors from the wreckage of a theater in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol that was struck a day earlier by a Russian attack, according to an adviser to the city’s mayor.

It was not clear how many people survived at the facility, the Drama Theater of Mariupol, which up to 1,000 people had been using as a shelter in recent days, the adviser, Pyotr Andryushchenko, said in a text message.

The recovery efforts were being hampered by continued shelling of the city by Russian forces on Thursday, he said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in an overnight public address that a Russian aircraft had “purposefully dropped a huge bomb” on the theater as crowds sheltered there. “Our hearts are broken by what Russia is doing to our people, to our Mariupol,” he said.

The New York Times reviewed satellite images showing that the word “children” had been written in Russian in large white letters in front of and behind the theater. The words were written around Saturday.

Videos posted to social media on Wednesday show that the theater had been largely destroyed. Walls on two sides of the building and large parts of the roof had collapsed.

The Russian government denied carrying out the attack, calling the allegations “a lie.”

“Our armed forces don’t bomb cities. Everyone is well aware of this,” Maria V. Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday.

Russian forces have besieged Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Sea of Azov, for over a week, cutting off civilians from food, water, electricity and heat. Bombs, missiles and artillery have hit apartment blocks, stores and a hospital complex.