The port city of Mariupol has been the city that has seen the most suffering of civilians in the war between Ukraine and Russia. Russia continues to attack the city, experts predict that the situation will only get worse.
Since early March, the port city has been closed by Russian troops.
There was massive Russian artillery and air strikes. On Tuesday evening, the General Staff reported to the Ukrainian defense that Russian forces had taken control of a “land corridor”, which is now blocking Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russia is making slow but steady progress. They predicted that the city would fall, but it might take weeks.
Mariupol is often referred to as “a port city of strategic importance”. But how did this city of over 400,000 people become the center of war?
– Only Mariupol prevented Russia from obtaining a permanent land connection to the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia. They have fairly good control of the rest of Ukraine’s Azov coast, but Mariupol exists as a plug preventing control of the most important communications connections, Lieutenant Colonel Palle Ydsteb explained to Dagbladet.
Morten Strand, writer and former foreign correspondent at Dagbladet, also points out geography, and that Mariupol is a major port city on the Sea of Azov.
However, Mariupol was the only city where this strategy worked completely, with a complete blockade around the city. The fact that Russia can enter via Crimea and eastern Ukraine has been a strategic advantage over Kyiv and Kharkiv.
– There’s also no great distance to speak of, and it’s a much smaller city. So the operation is much easier.
Attack: – Seems to have reached its peak
– Not optimistic
Last night through Monday, Russia offered Ukraine surrender in order to be allowed to travel safely out of Mariupol. The offer was rejected.
– There is a form of military prestige in this. They don’t put it on ice when you’ve invested so much in it, Ydstebø believes.
Ydstebø pointed out that it was important for Ukraine to defend the city, as it tied up most of the Russian troops.
– This is a bit speculative, but there is talk that Russia also wants to take over the city to set an example to other Ukrainian cities of what happens if they fight back, said Göransson, who believes Ukraine has done a good job of defending Mariupol.
“Hell on Earth”
According to a statement from the Mariupol City Council on Wednesday last week, at least 2,817 civilians were killed, but no official death toll is known, and the number is thought to be much higher.
The city is cut off from the outside world, and last week it was reported that the last of its water and food reserves had run out, while the power went out.
A resident must The Financial Times described the city as “hell on earth.”
Putin’s isolation worries
– I hope no one has to see what I saw, Manolin Androulakis told Reuters, he has been working from within Mariupol to help Greeks in the city.
– How bad would it be if the fighting continued?
– It could be worse if there were less areas to fight for. Civilians could be confined in smaller areas, and there would be less access to food and drink. “It could be a humanitarian catastrophe that is worse than what we have seen,” replied Lieutenant Colonel Ydsteb.
He compared the devastation in the city to the bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo in 2016.
– I think this will take some time. Russia might step up its attacks on the city, Göransson concluded.
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