Mariupol in Donetsk Region has been shelled since the very first day of the full-scale Russian invasion into Ukraine.
Today is the 25th day of the full-scale Russian invasion into Ukraine. During this time, the Ukrainian forces have wiped out numerous enemy vehicles and almost 15 thousand personnel of the occupant army. Realizing their failure and lack of capacities at the battlefield, Russian invaders came down to extermination of civilian population and destruction of Ukrainian cities with aircraft bombs and missiles. The most critical situation now unfolds in Mariupol, which for 18 days has been surrounded and besieged by occupants. The city is cut off from power supply, heat supply, water supply and communication. The attempts to deliver food and medicines were unsuccessful. The Russian army hammers Mariupol with 50-100 aircraft bombs daily, killing multiple local residents. The invaders destroyed the city by almost 90% and turned it into the area of humanitarian disaster. Russia led by Putin essentially commits an act of terrorism against Mariupol and its residents.
On February 24th, the first day of the war, the Russian army shelled Mariupol from BM-30 Smerch and BM-21 "Grad" multiple rocket launchers resulting in many civilian casualties, including children. Then, the Mayor of the city, Vadym Boichenko reported that the occupants failed to capture Mariupol and decided to target civilian population: fire at residential houses, schools and kindergartens. Later, the enemy also started air raids both on Mariupol and small towns nearby.
Artillery attacks and air raids continued every day. During the night, in the early hours of March 1st, the city was cut off from power supply because of electricity transmission lines being damaged by enemy shells.
On the same day, so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” combatants announced alleged opening of humanitarian routes from Mariupol for civilians. The City Council immediately suspected that this might indicate preparations for major sabotage, since previously Russian military had repeatedly used the civilians as human shield in order to break into Ukrainian towns.
On March 2nd, after 14 hours of continuous shelling, the Mayor first declared that the city was on the verge of humanitarian disasters. According to the Head of Regional Administration, Mariupol was left without power, heat and water supply, while all routes used for food delivery were blocked by the Russian military.People queue to receive hot food in an improvised bomb shelter / Associated Press
“Mariupol: civil infrastructure, local population and residential districts are deliberately annihilated”, Volodymyr Zelenskyi said in his video address on March 4th.
On the same day, the city faced the depletion of food and medicine stock. The hospitals were filled with more than 300 injured civilians. On March 5th, the Mayor made a hopeful statement about possible opening of the first humanitarian routes from the besieged city. The initial evacuation of Mariupol residents to Zaporizhzhia was about to start on the same morning. According to Iryna Vereshchuk, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Reintegration of Temporary Occupied Territories, the state of ceasefire for evacuation of civilians was guaranteed by the Red Cross.
“During the state of ceasefire, our military reported that the Russian troops used the ceasefire in order to move forwards in the area of confirmed humanitarian routes”, Vereshchuk added later.
First Failure of Humanitarian Route
However, the City Council stated that the Russian side refused to comply with the state of ceasefire and continued shelling of Mariupol and its outskirts. The people were instructed to immediately clear the area and proceed to the shelters. This was the first failed evacuation attempt disrupted by the Russian military.
“I have to acknowledge the fact that Russia does not comply even with the arrangements mediated by the Red Cross. The Russian side failed to fulfill the accepted obligations and keeps Volnovakha town under fire. As for Mariupol – Zaporizhzhia direction, the combat operations in the area of Polohy-Orikhove settlement prevent movement of humanitarian convoy from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia”, Vereshchuk said afterwards.
At the end of the day, Boichenko, the Mayor, reported that Mariupol was surrounded and besieged by the Russian military. Most of the city’s infrastructure was destroyed, and many civilians suffered injuries.
Second Evacuation Attempt: Humanitarian Disaster in Mariupol
On March 6th, the Ukrainian government made a second attempt to arrange humanitarian route from the city. However, it also failed due to powerful enemy shelling, according to the Head of Donetsk Regional Military Administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko. Vereshchuk added that because of artillery attacks, 8 trucks carrying humanitarian aid could not reach Mariupol.
On the same day, the international organization Doctors Without Borders confirmed catastrophic humanitarian situation in Mariupol. The key reported issues were: lack of access to potable water, depletion of food stock, absence of power and heat supply. The city was cut off from the Internet and telephone communication. Healthcare facilities, stores and residential buildings sustained serious damage.
Moreover, delivery of any humanitarian aid to the city was impossible. The representative of Doctors Without Borders mentioned that Mariupol residents were forced to produce water from melted snow in order to survive.
On March 6th, the reports about 18-month-old boy severely injured during shelling by Russian army were received. The parents quickly carried him to the hospital, where the medics desperately fought for his life. Unfortunately, their efforts were unsuccessful – the child died.
On March 7th, the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Ukraine stated that every residential district in Mariupol sustained damage by enemy fire. There were no single street without broken windows, destroyed apartments or even entire buildings.
“The bodies of deceased citizens are buried by their neighbors directly in the residential district yards. Power, water and gas supply to the city had not been restored yet. The residents are forced to cook food on the bonfires in front of their houses”, the law enforcement officers reported.
“We agreed on humanitarian route, but instead of ceasefire we faced Russian tanks, mortar bombs and BM-21 "Grad" fire. They planted explosives on the road confirmed for delivery of food and medicines desperately needed by people and children in Mariupol. They even smashed the buses that were supposed to evacuate people”, Volodymyr Zelenskyi stated on the evening of March 7th.
On March 8th, Ukraine once again called on the Russian side to approve humanitarian routes. At the same time, the Ministry of Interior Affairs reported that the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, personally ordered to deny any “green corridors”.
Child Died of Dehydration
“It is very important for invaders to push the situation to the edge, where the Ukrainian people in need of evacuation would be so desperate to accept the humanitarian routes to Russia”, the law-enforcement officers disclosed.
Still, that day the Ukrainian buses once again were dispatched to Mariupol in attempt to rescue civilians, and again the occupants launched deliberate attack on humanitarian route in order not to let the residents out of the city.
While the enemy gruesomely terrorized the city, on March 8th, Zelenskyi confirmed that a child in Mariupol died of dehydration.
“This is the first case in decades, probably since the Nazi invasion, when a child in Mariupol died of dehydration. Just listen to me, dear partners, it happened today. A child died of dehydration in 2022”, the President stated.
Meanwhile, according to the Head of Regional Administration, the residents started a bonfire on the street and cooked food in the large pot under the Russian fire in order to feed the sick children from local intensive care unit.
Strike on Maternity Hospital
On March 9th, Vereshchuk announced opening of the series of humanitarian routes, including a “green corridor” from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia. However, the occupants once again opened fire in order to keep civilians inside the besieged city. “Russia continues to keep more than 400 thousand people in Mariupol as hostages, blocks supplies of humanitarian aid and disrupts evacuation attempts”, said Dmytro Kuleba, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
On the same day, the Russian troops opened artillery fire and destroyed the Maternity Hospital №2 in Mariupol with birthing mothers and children inside. This attack resulted in death of 3 people, including a little girl. One woman, who suffered severe injuries, later died together with unborn baby.
“The rocket artillery of the Russian Federation turns Mariupol into a rubble just in front of our eyes. Direct strike on maternity hospital. Birthing mothers and babies are trapped under wreckage. More deaths instead of new lives. Is it not enough to close the sky against Russian missiles? Is it too weak argument to stop the massacre of civilian population?”, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, asked the world on that grim day.
Zelenskyi called the strike on the maternity house the direct evidence of genocide of Ukrainian people.
Oleksii Arestovych, the Adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, later disclosed that the occupants targeted the maternity hospital deliberately, thus initiating the Syria-Chechen tactical scenario based on the terror of civilian population.
On March 10th, convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid was dispatched to Mariupol from Zaporizhzhia, while the Russian army continued their bombings. During that day, 24 children were born in the destroyed and besieged city.
“I will now appeal to the entire world. Help Mariupol! The real humanitarian disaster is raging in the city. Today, we once again could not even deliver the humanitarian supplies. The trucks with food and medicine could not reach the people living under heavy fire for many days in the row”, Vereshchuk stated.
On March 11th, 12th and 13th, more attempts to rescue Mariupol residents were made, but failed due to the enemy attacks. However, the Deputy Prime Minister emphasized that the Ukrainian government would continue to try to arrange evacuation again and again. Moreover, the Russian army kept blocking delivery of humanitarian aid to the city.
On March 13th, the City Council reported that 100 aircraft bombs had been dropped on Mariupol during the war resulting in more than two thousand civilian casualties.
First Successful Evacuation
Only on March 15th, the first humanitarian aid batch was successfully delivered to Mariupol and more than 2 thousand civilian cars were let out of the city. Around 20 thousand people were rescued, according to the Office of the President’s reports.
Hostages at Hospital
On March 15th, the Russian troops took the healthcare personnel and patients of the regional intensive care center in Mariupol as hostages after completely destroying the building of the hospital.
“It’s impossible to leave the hospital. We are in the basement under heavy fire. The vehicles cannot reach the building for two days. The apartment blocks around are on fire (…). Russians brought 400 people from nearby houses to our hospital. We cannot get out”, one of the health workers said.
Vereshchuk called on the world to take measures in order to release the hostages.
On March 16th, the Russian military started to shell Mariupol from the Azov Sea. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the situation in the city remained critical.
On the same day, the occupants opened fire at the motor transport column with refugees heading from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, the head of the Regional State Administration, Oleksandr Starukh reported. Luckily, there were no casualties.
Drama Theatre Bombing
On March 16th, the invaders dropped a superbomb on Drama Theatre in Mariupol, where thousands of citizens, primarily mothers with children, were hiding, even despite the huge sign “Children Inside” in front of the building.
The target of another attack was Neptune sport complex used as another temporarily shelter for civilians. Many people, including pregnant women and children, were trapped under wreckage.
Later, it was reported that the shelter of Drama Theatre withstood the attack, and on the next day some of the victims were successfully rescued. The Italian government promised to assist in restoration of the theatre building.
Despite these grim actions, Vereshchuk reported that 6,5 thousand people managed to evacuate from Mariupol on that day.
On March 17th, the local government stated that the Russian army destroyed 90% of city. Those left in Mariupol were even forced to drink water from puddles because of Russian interference with humanitarian aid delivery.
On the same day, around 800 private vehicles were let out of Mariupol. Some people managed to escape the city on foot.
On the evening of March 18th, Zelenskyi stated that despite all challenges and attacks, 35 thousand people were successfully evacuated from surrounded Mariupol.
Forced Deportation of Mariupol Residents to Russia and Occupied Territories
On March 19th, the Ukrainian government received the first reports that the enemy forcibly deported few thousands of Mariupol residents. The people were first sent to the screening and filtration camps, where the occupants checked their smartphones and documents. Later, a group of the Mariupol residents was forcibly deported to the remote regions of Russia, and their further fate currently remains unclear.
On March 20th, the Head of Donetsk Regional Administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, confirmed that some residents of Mariupol’s Livoberezhnyi District were forced to cross the border of the Russian Federation. According to him, the occupants confiscate the Ukrainian passports and deport people to Russia or to the occupied districts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Instead of the valid Ukrainian identity documents, they are given fake papers “without any legal significance in the entire civilized world”.
Russian Occupants Dropped Bombs on Mariupol Art School, Where People Were Hiding
On March 20th, it was reported that yesterday the Russian occupants dropped bombs on the Art School №12 in the Livoberezhnyi District of Mariupol, where 400 local residents – women, children and seniors – found their shelter. The exact number of casualties as a result of this another atrocious act of Russian aggression is still unknown, although it is confirmed that some people under the wreckage are still alive, but cannot receive help due to continuous enemy fire.
Shelling from Russian Warships
On March 20th, Ukrainer Regiment, whose soldiers are defending Mariupol against occupants, reported that the city was shelled by 4 warships of the Russian Navy. The enemy continues to ruthlessly destroy the Ukrainian city using all available weaponry. After using aircrafts, artillery, various rocket systems and tanks, they now annihilate Mariupol from heavy firepower weapon of navy warships.
As of March 20th, the city is still surrounded and besieged. The residents are facing great challenges during attempts to leave the city. At the same time, the occupants started to force the civilians to wear white tape bands used as Russian identification sign, in order to confuse the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Almost 40 thousand residents managed to escape Mariupol during this week.