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Besieged Mariupol: How Russia obliterated a nearly half-million city in one month (photos)

A street in Mariupol devastated by Russian shelling. Source
Besieged Mariupol: How Russia obliterated a nearly half-million city in one month (photos)

Beseiged Mariupol is nearly obliterated. Since 24 February, when Russia unleashed its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops have been obliterating the Ukrainian city of Mariupol using every conventional weapon at Russia’s disposal, from mortars to missiles and several-hundred-ton bombs. The attacks on the city are going on to this day with only short pauses between them. The estimated death toll among the city residents has been at thousands. Here are several photos of the besieged city.

Mariupol is Ukraine’s 10th largest city in the southeast of Ukraine. Its pre-war population was more than 430,000 people. Located on the sea coast, it has the largest Ukrainian port on the Sea of Azov. From 24 February, the first day of Russia’s all-out war on Ukraine, Mariupol became one of the primary targets for the Russian troops. Russia blocked the Azov Sea just before the invasion and on 2 March, the Russian troops coming from the east and from the southwest completely cut off the metropolis from Ukraine.

Aerial view of central Mariupol before the Russian full-scale invasion with the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in the middle. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Unable to capture the besieged city, Russia focused on the destruction of local infrastructure in the city and terrorizing the civilians by the missile, artillery, rocket, aircraft attacks primarily on the residential neighborhoods.

Satellite image of the Mariupol theater bombed out by Russian aircraft on 16 March. Photo by Maxar Technologies, taken on the morning of 19 March 2022.

In the first days of the siege, an estimated 300,000 Mariupol residents found themselves blocked in their hometown under continuous fire, scarce on food, without running water, gas, electricity.

The Mariupol Drama Theater ruined by Russian air bombs on 16 March. The building was known to be used by hundreds of Mariupol residents as a bomb shelter. Reportedly, at least 1,000 people remained blocked under the rubble, and the operation to rescue them has been continuously disrupted by Russian fire attacks. Source

Locals bury their dead just in the courtyards where those were killed, those who have nobody to bury them are collected on the streets to be buried in mass graves.

A few days ago, Ukraine’s Parliament reported that at least 80% of residential housing has been destroyed in Mariupol. On 20 March, the Russian navy ships joined the obliteration of the once-bustling coastal city.

A house damaged by Russian shelling. Mariupol, Orlyka St. Source.

On 20 March, the Russian military gave an ultimatum demanding that Mariupol defenders leave the city unarmed via some “green corridor,” the city authorities rejected the Russian demands.

The Russian shelling and bombing continue to this day, and nobody can even assess the level of humanitarian catastrophe and the number of deaths among civilians in Mariupol.

Ruined apartment building in central Mariupol. 18 March 2022. Source.

Russian troops shelling Mariupol’s Azovstal, the largest steel mill in the region.
Fire caused by Russian shelling in a residential house at Pashkovskoho St, Mariupol. Source

Nobody in Mariupol can extinguish fires caused by Russian attacks because the local fire department was one of the early targets of the Russian air raids.

Residential house in Mariupol, on Mamyna-Sybiryaka St, damaged by Russian shelling. Source.
A burned-down apartment building on Voiniv-Vyzvolyteliv St, Mariupol. The photo was taken around 15 March 2022. Source
Charred obliterated apartment building on Budivelnykiv St, Mariupol. Source.

Mariupol has a significant community of local Pontic Greeks. Greek Consul General Manolis Andrulakis, who was the last diplomat to leave Mariupol, said after he managed to escape from the city,

“Mariupol will be included in the list of cities that were completely destroyed by the war: Guernica, Coventry, Aleppo, Grozny, Leningrad.”

A shopping center gutted by Russian attacks. Source


In the first days of the siege of the city, the Russian troops knocked out major lines of gas and water supply in the city. Since then Mariupolites have to cook food outdoors. The photo shows a makeshift stove outdoors for cooking food using open fire. In the background, an apartment is on fire after the Russian shelling. Mariupol, area of the seaport. Source
A woman cooking food on a bonfire not far from an overflown dumpster as people stand at the exit from the basement. Mariupol, Orlyka St. Published on 20 March 2022. Source.
People seek refuge in the basement of a building. Source

Russia has been denying any humanitarian convoys into the besieged city to this day. First residents of Mariupol managed to leave the besieged city only on 16 March, two weeks into the siege.


Russia disrupts humanitarian convoys and evacuation from the war zone in Ukraine


Maxar satellite image showing a long caravan of refugee cars at the exit from Mariupol on 18 March. Photo: Mazar Technologies, source.


Mariupol residents prepare for an attempt to evacuate the embattled city of Mariupol on foot on March 20. Source

As of 20 March, about 41,000 Mariupol residents managed to escape their destroyed city and reach the central-Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, according to the Mariupol City Council.

Meanwhile, the city’s mayor Vadym Boychenko stated that over the past week, the Russian military deported several thousand Mariupol residents to Russia from the Russian-occupied eastern part of Mariupol.

“It is known that the captured Mariupol residents were taken to filtration camps, where the occupiers checked people’s phones and documents. After the inspection, some Mariupol residents were redirected to remote cities in Russia, the fate of others remains unknown,” the Mayor wrote on Telegram.

“The last week was pure horror and hell,” evacuee from besieged Mariupol recalls

View of Mariupol. Source

The death toll of the ongoing Russian siege of Mariupol remains unknown as most of the victims of the Russian attacks remain buried under the ruble. A week ago the local authorities reported that 2,187 Mariupol residents had died in Russian attacks.

This is Mariupol today:

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