Mariupol has seen some of the fiercest bombardments since Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Once a thriving port city, 90% of its buildings are now obliterated. On 28 March, city officials reported that roughly 5,000 people, including 210 children died from the Russian siege.
Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Sea of Azov, has been under siege since the beginning of the war. Local authorities say that hundreds of Mariupol residents have been killed in the fighting, many are hastily buried in parks or gardens, mass burial areas are quickly organized by local teams to prevent diseases from spreading.
Russia’s random shelling, missile strikes, and siege tactics have devastated Mariupol’s residential neighborhoods, the city center and important administrative buildings. Despite huge warning letters “CHILDREN” laid out nearby, the Mariupol Theatre, sheltering hundreds of civilians, was hit by Russian airstrikes on 16 March and totally destroyed. 300 people were killed, including women, children, and elderly citizens.
Civilian structures have sustained major damage, from blown-out windows to entire multistorey buildings destroyed and burnt. Smoke continues to rise from smoldering fires throughout the city.
Russian airstrikes completely destroyed residential apartments, markets, and a public school, located in Livoberezny Raion of Mariupol.
In its assessment of Russia’s war, the Institute for the Study of War in Washington writes that Russian forces “continue their grinding advance into Mariupol”. When Russian ground forces met with unprecedented losses and fierce resistance from the Ukrainian army, Moscow began air, artillery, rocket, and missile bombardments of cities across Ukraine.
Recently, the Kremlin forces started shelling Mariupol from the sea. According to some American officials, there are seven Russian warships based in the Sea of Azov.
From the very beginning, Moscow has been targeting Mariupol together with other key Ukrainian cities (Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Odesa, and especially Kyiv). The capture of Mariupol would give Russia a land corridor connecting the occupied territories in the Donbas to occupied Crimea.
As of 27 March 2022, some 100,000 people remained trapped in the city – from a prewar population of about 430,000. There is a disastrous shortage of food, water, and medicine; city officials report that 90% of the city buildings have been damaged. The Red Cross has described the situation as “apocalyptic”, and Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of engineering a major humanitarian crisis in the city.
There are several units of the Armed Forces currently defending Mariupol – elite Ukrainian navy seals from the 36th Marine Brigade, the Azov Battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine, and Territorial Defense Forces.
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