Ukraine fears scores killed in school bombing

Putin to address Russians and oversee Red Square parade of military might

Ukraine has said scores of people may have been killed in an alleged Russian airstrike on a school, as powerful G7 nations pledged to intensify support for Kyiv and efforts to isolate and weaken Moscow over a war they said brought "shame" to Russia.

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke to his G7 counterparts on Sunday as his country welcomed high-profile visitors including Canadian premier Justin Trudeau and US first lady Jill Biden, in a show of western support for Kyiv 10 weeks into Russia’s all-out invasion of its neighbour and a day before a major military parade on Moscow’s Red Square.

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine where fierce fighting is taking place, said about 90 people were sheltering from shelling in a school in the village of Bilohorivka, when a Russian bomb demolished it.

Dead among rubble

“Thirty people were evacuated from the rubble, seven of whom were injured. Sixty people are likely to have died,” he wrote on social media, adding that fire among the ruins and intense shelling were hampering rescue efforts.

Moscow did not comment on the attack, but says it is striking only military sites during what it calls a “special operation” to “denazify” Ukraine, with which it has been in conflict since the 42-million-strong democracy sought to align with the West after a 2014 revolution.

Russia will mark the defeat of Nazi Germany on Monday during Victory Day celebrations that are scheduled to include a parade of powerful weaponry through central Moscow and a speech by the country's autocratic president, Vladimir Putin.

Address by Putin

Despite Kremlin denials, speculation persists that Mr Putin may use the address, on what is an emotionally charged occasion in Russia, to formally declare war or announce mass mobilisation to swell the ranks of an army that has struggled to make headway in Ukraine.

In a statement, G7 leaders said Mr Putin’s war on Ukraine “brings shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people” and vowed to continue providing military, financial and other support to Ukraine while isolating Moscow with sanctions.

“We will spare no effort to hold President Putin and the architects and accomplices of this aggression . . . accountable for their actions in accordance with international law,” they added, amid allegations that Russian forces have committed war crimes in several parts of Ukraine.

Mr Trudeau on Sunday visited one such area, Irpin outside Kyiv, as Ms Biden met her Ukrainian counterpart, Olena Zelenska, in western Ukraine.