Since early March, Russian soldiers have been attacking the port city of Mariupol, which had a population of roughly 450,000 people before the war, with satellite photographs indicating severe destruction to residential areas.
While the Russian ultimatum appeared to provide safe passage out of the city to anyone who decided to surrender, it made no such guarantees to those who remained.
Russia has been accused of targeting people on numerous occasions, with stranded inhabitants describing the assault as “hell.”
Basic utilities have been completely disrupted as a result of the Russian attacks, with inhabitants unable to access gas, electricity, or water. Bodies (including Russian) are being left on the street because either no one is available to remove them or it is too unsafe to do so.
People are afraid to leave their underground shelters even to acquire supplies, according to a local official, so they are attempting to drink less water and eat less food, only surfacing to prepare heated meals.
According to Major Denis Prokopenko of the National Guard Azov Regiment, the city is progressively facing the brunt of Russia’s ruthless attack on the country, which includes shelling day and night. The assault has included a maternity ward, a theater and an art school where hundreds of people were taking refuge, and the extent of the damage is still unknown as rescue attempts continue. According to satellite photographs, the word “children” was spelt out on two sides of the theater before it was attacked.
Ukrainian officials have been accusing Russian soldiers of obstructing evacuation channels that would allow inhabitants to flee the city safely for weeks. On his Telegram channel, Mariupol Mayor’s Adviser Petro Andrushenko said the Russian military reportedly shot at civilians trying to evacuate the city in their cars on Sunday. A relief convoy for the beleaguered city has been repeatedly blocked, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
On Sunday, the Mariupol City Council said residents are being taken to Russia against their will by Russian forces. Residents of Mariupol who were captured were transferred to camps where Russian authorities verified their phones and documents before relocating some of them to remote Russian cities, according to the council. Russia denied the accusations Saturday.
The city is a strategic port that lies on a stretch of coast connecting the eastern region of Donbas with the Crimea peninsula, both of which have been under Russian control since 2014. Russian forces appear to be trying to take full control of the area to create a land corridor between the two regions, squeezing Mariupol with brutal military force.
“It is impossible to find words that could describe the level of cruelty and cynicism with which the Russian occupiers are destroying the civilian population of the Ukrainian city by the sea. Women, children, and the elderly remain in the enemy’s sights. These are completely unarmed peaceful people,” the Mariupol city council said last week.