Speaking over a blurry video call, the deputy mayor of Mariupol painted a grim picture of life and death on Wednesday inside his besieged city.
Mariupol was besieged by Russian forces a week ago. In contact with the Guardian and other foreign media, Sergei Orlov said they have been bombing it “constantly” since then.
They used aviation, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, Grads, and other types of weapons that we don’t even know about. This is not just treachery. “It is a war crime and pure genocide,” he said.
“Vladimir Putin means capturing Mariupol at any human cost,” he added.
As evidence, Orloff broke down a list of civilian targets that he said had been “wiped out” thus far. It included several residential houses, the 600-bed maternity hospital No. 9 in Mariupol, the main administrative services building, and the city’s giant Avostal metallurgical plant – once the workplace of 11,000 people.
He said 1,170 people were killed. On Wednesday, municipal workers buried 47 victims in a mass grave.
“We couldn’t recognize all of them,” Orloff said. He suggested that the message from Moscow was frighteningly clear: “Putin intends to destroy.” Ukraine So he can get Ukraine without the Ukrainians.”
He said that Putin’s goals are moving at a terrifying pace. The city has spent the past eight days without heating, electricity, gas or electricity. Orlov said that the Russians, who were standing in tanks and armored vehicles on the coastal outskirts of Mariupol, bombed all 15 power lines. On Monday, they blew up the gas connection.
We sent a team of workers to repair the line. The Russians bombed them immediately. He said.
As a result, the city’s 400,000 residents were living in frigid “medieval conditions”, unimaginable in what until two weeks ago was a modern and “thriving” city, with bustling cafes and restaurants.
“The only way civilians can cook now is by open fire. People are fighting over firewood. They are happy because it is cold and it is snowing. Snow means they have something to drink.”
“A six-year-old girl died of dehydration,” Orloff said bitterly. “This is it Europe, in 2022. How could that happen? He added, “A lot of neighborhoods have been destroyed. They’re throwing half-ton bombs out of the sky.”
Mariupol is one of the many Ukrainian cities where Russia has promised to open the so-called humanitarian corridors. The reality, Orloff said, is the opposite. During the past five days Russia bombed the agreed path And even they mine the road. It allegedly set up a new checkpoint, making evacuation to Zaporizhzhya – a city in the west under Ukrainian control – impossible.
The deputy mayor estimated that about 200 thousand people wanted to get out of Mariupol. He said authorities were only able to transport 2,000 to 3,000 residents a day on a dilapidated fleet of 21 municipal buses. The Russians settled the others. They have targeted assembly evacuation points, with citizens understandably reluctant to leave their shelters.
He said Putin’s lucid dream of a “Russian world” excluding Ukrainians was the product of a “sick imagination”.
He noted that Mariupol has always been a multicultural city, home to Ukrainian and Russian speakers as well as ethnic Greeks and Armenians. All of them are Ukrainian citizens, he said, adding that no one cares about the language you speak.
Half of the dead in the Russian bombings are Russian-Ukrainians. This is Putin’s “peace,” he said sarcastically. He said the Ukrainian army would defend Mariupol to the last man. He predicted that if it eventually fell it would become a “ghost place,” adding: “There is no Russian Mariupol. It will be a desert.”
From Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released pictures of the air strike on Wednesday in the maternity hospital in Mariupol, and said that people and children were buried under the rubble. The Guardian was unable to verify this claim, but a video released by the Associated Press showed several wounded at the site of the hospital attack.
Zelensky renewed his call – which has so far been rejected by NATO – for an immediate no-fly zone over Ukraine. He wrote that the world is “losing its humanity”.
Other photos taken from inside Mariupol over the past two days confirm a humanitarian catastrophe, with the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom seemingly unable to do anything.
The apartment buildings appear black and wrecked, many still burning; Burnt out cars and littered streets. The bodies were lying on sidewalks covered with carpets or sheets.
Local authorities still control the city center. The worst bombing occurred in the western regions closest to Russian forces including Primorsky and the port area, which was once home to Ukraine’s small sea flotilla of Azov. With little food left, desperate civilians began looting stores, smashing glass and climbing windows.
The city distributed bottled water to women and children. Orloff said the supply of formula milk had run out, with about 3,000 babies not being fed. Families sleep in very cold basements. A small number of residents are able to charge cell phones on city council generators. But for most people, contact with the outside world has ceased.
Writing on Facebook“No electricity, no communications, no gas, no medical care, no food. The looting is increasing. There are crazy mothers looking for food and diapers. Let’s help each other whenever possible,” said Angela Timchenko, a resident of Mariupol.
She added: Yesterday I was in town. There were bonfires burning near all the houses and food was being prepared… For all who let our children die, they burn in hell. I heard a little boy ask his mother, “Are rockets a spark today?”
Timchenko said she lost 3.5 kg and was running back and forth from her apartment on the eighth floor of a building in Mariupol, where she lived with her family. “Baby understands if you raise your voice a little, we need to run for cover,” I wrote influentially.
A few days ago, activist Anatoly Lozar described the situation in Mariupol as “hell”. He said that the city became the new Stalingrad. On Wednesday, his two phones failed to connect. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said Mariupol was “besieged by Russian invaders” and was in dire need of help.
Mariupol is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. A humanitarian convoy cannot reach the city after being left without water, heating and electricity.”
The humanitarian corridor was already operating in the northeastern city of Sumy, where civilians were able to leave for the second day in a row. They were able to go out in private cars. Several hundred international students were trapped by the fighting He left on Tuesday in Poltava buses, west of Kharkiv.
For those who stayed in Sumy, conditions were bleak. Russia’s mayor, Oleksandr Lysenko, said that since Monday, Russia has carried out four indiscriminate raids that have killed civilians and children.
The latest attack in Atma on Wednesday morning targeted a residential area in the city center. “We managed to get six people, who are still alive, and a dog,” Lysenko said.
Two convoys managed to leave on Tuesday and were allowed to pass through the enemy’s cordon. But he said the Russians used the second convoy as a human shield to push their tanks forward.
They shoot at civilian cars. Some cars pass, others don’t,” he said. “It’s a matter of luck.”
He added: “They shoot civilians who try to escape. The Russians have no humanity.”
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