Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

HRW, Truth Hounds document Russia’s destruction of Mariupol

Satellite imagery analysis of mass graves in Mariupol suggests at least 10,284 people were buried between March 2022 and February 2023, according to a new report
Mariupol drama theater destroyed
Mariupol’s destroyed drama theater is one of the many objects studied by human rights researchers in their report on Russia’s destruction of Mariupol. Screenshot from the report
HRW, Truth Hounds document Russia’s destruction of Mariupol

A new investigation by Human Rights Watch, SITU Research and Truth Hounds has documented the extensive damage and civilian casualties suffered in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol during the 2022 Russian siege.

The investigation creates a much-needed archive of Russia’s destruction of a once-blooming Ukrainian city of 500,000, as Russia is attempting to conceal the extent of the damage and death through hurried reconstruction efforts.

According to the report, thousands of civilians were killed during the fighting or died from other causes as critical infrastructure was destroyed, leaving the city without electricity, running water, heating and telecommunications.

The report, titled “Beneath the Rubble: Documenting Devastation and Loss in Mariupol,” focused on damage around a central artery of the city called Myru Avenue. Researchers analyzed nearly 5,000 damaged or destroyed buildings in an area measuring roughly 14 square kilometers, about a quarter of Mariupol’s urban zone. Their investigation included creating 3D models of seven buildings to illustrate the extent of the damage.

Mariupol devastation
The extent of Russia’s damage to central Mariupol. Screenshot from the report

“Before Russian forces attacked, about 540,000 people called the bustling city in southeastern Ukraine home,” the report states. “It was a place as rich in culture as it was in industry, strategically placed on the Sea of Azov.” However, by early March 2022, “Russian forces were besieging the city. As Russian and affiliated forces gained ground, attacking with tanks, mortars, heavy artillery and aircraft, families left their homes and followed stairs deep into basements, down into darkness.”

Based on satellite imagery analysis of five mass burial sites in and around Mariupol, researchers estimate that at least 10,284 people, including an unknown number of soldiers, were buried in these graves between March 2022 and February 2023. “This is the minimum number of people buried during this period and is most likely a significant underestimate of the total number of people who died,” the report notes.

Human Rights Watch and its collaborators relied on accounts from hundreds of displaced survivors and witnesses, geolocated and verified 850 photographs and videos, and conducted a remote block-by-block assessment of the extensive damage in central Mariupol. They also investigated which Russian forces and commanders may be responsible for war crimes.

“War transformed the city into something unrecognizable: a tangled mess of crumpled buildings and a place of shallow graves,” according to the report. “Two years have passed since Russian forces besieged Mariupol. Much global attention, drawn to other hotspots in the grinding war or to other major conflicts, has moved on. But life has not returned to normal for the city’s residents; the Mariupol they knew is largely gone.”


You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!