As the Russo-Ukrainian war entered the 27th day, new satellite images emerged showing Russian artillery, tanks and vehicles being repositioned over the besieged city of Mariupol. Footage from March 19 showed Russian troops deployed in the streets of the “left bank” neighborhood of the strategic port city of Mariupol, where pro-Russian occupiers took over government buildings. Of note, the Russian assault hit Mariupol more than others.
Satellite images also showed smoke rising from burnt residential buildings hit by Russian airstrikes.
(Russian military vehicles and tanks seen on the streets of Mariupol’s “left bank” district; Image: Maxar Technologies)
(Russian artillery deployed seen in Talakivka, northeast of Mariupol, Ukraine; Image: AP)
Attacks on Mariupol
Located on the shores of the Sea of Azov, Mariupol has been terrorized since Russia struck a maternity hospital and a children’s hospital on March 9, leaving 17 injured and 3 dead, including a 6-year-old child. The town is a key target that has been relentlessly pounded by Russian invaders as its occupation would help Russia establish a land bridge to Crimea, seized from Ukraine in 2014.
As the hospital turned into a heap of rubble in moments, distraught Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on world leaders to “stop being an ignorant accomplice in terror”. The attack was condemned by the international community, further accusing Russia of war crimes. The attack was considered the fiercest until on March 13 Russian forces bombarded a dramatic theater housing hundreds of residents.
(Smoke rises from burning buildings in Mariupol; Image: AP)
As the assault intensified, the occupiers launched a tank attack against countless houses, government buildings. Due to the four-week war, casualties in Mariupol accounted for the majority of the total Ukrainian civilian death toll. According to local authorities, some 2,500 people have been killed since the first week of March. Morgues were overflowing with mutilated bodies wrapped in the tarpaulin that forced hospital workers to dig mass graves to bury unclaimed corpses of soldiers and civilians, The Associated Press had reported.
Mariupol “burned to ashes”: Zelenskyy
Since the siege, multiple efforts to evacuate stranded citizens in Mariupol have failed due to repeated ceasefire violations by the Russians. Efforts to send basic necessities also failed when Russian tanks attacked humanitarian corridors, President Zelenskyy said. The escalated assaults also led to a prolonged blackout as Russian shelling destroyed buildings, sewage systems, cut communication systems and water supplies.
Noting the escalating violence and rising death toll in the city of 4,50,000, embattled President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that Mariupol was “reduced to ashes”.
While the scale of the horror still remains unclear, on Sunday Russian forces encircling the city called on Ukraine to surrender. Although Ukrainian defenders staged vigorous resistance against the invaders, Zelenskyy said Ukraine will not “lay down” its arms in front of the occupiers. As the shelling on Mariupol grew brutal each day, those who remained in the city lived in cruel conditions, struggling to survive.