So big and bold it could be seen by a satellite in space, the warning “children” was painted outside a drama theatre where hundreds of Ukrainians, young and old, had been sheltering from Russian shelling.
Today, that theatre in the city of Mariupol was eviscerated, hit with what a Ukrainian politician said was a devastating 1000-kilogram Russian bomb.
MP Dmytro Gurin accused the Russians of knowingly bombing the building while women and children were hiding inside, and said acts of “mass murder” were now being carried out by Russian forces in Mariupol.
“They just knew that it was bomb shelter and dropped 1000 kilogram bomb on this dramatic theatre,” Mr Gurion told Today.
“The building is destroyed.”
Satellite imagery firm Maxar Technologies said images snapped from space on Monday showed the word “children” had been written in large white letters in Cyrillic, the alphabet used in Russia, outside the building.
Ukrainian officials said there was no way the theatre could have been mistaken for a military target by the Russian aircraft that dropped the bomb.
Mass graves in Mariupol
The bodies of the children all lie here, dumped into this narrow trench hastily dug into the frozen earth of Mariupol in south-eastern Ukraine to the constant drumbeat of shelling.
There’s 18-month-old Kirill, whose shrapnel wound to the head proved too much for his little toddler’s body.
There’s 16-year-old Iliya, whose legs were blown up in an explosion during a football game at a school field.
There’s the girl no older than six who wore the pyjamas with cartoon unicorns, among the first of Mariupol’s children to die from a Russian shell.
More bodies will come, from streets where they are everywhere and from the hospital basement where adults and children are laid out awaiting someone to pick them up.
Each airstrike and shell that relentlessly pounds Mariupol — about one a minute at times — drives home the curse of a geography that has put the city squarely in the path of Russia’s domination of Ukraine.