“Even the body of a child can be seen among the corpses lying on the streets. People, who are trapped in the city besieged by Russian forces, collect snow to melt for water and even prey on stray dogs.”
This is a scene witnessed on Monday (local time) in Mariupol, the southeastern port city in Ukraine. Russia carried out heavy shelling on Mariupol and set a deadline to surrender the besieged city, but Ukrainian city officials rejected Russia’s ultimatum, putting the city at a risk of falling. The Financial Times (FT) reported that the once Ukraine’s most important port city is now a huge charnel house and a ghost town.
Russian forces on Sunday demanded that Ukraine lay down arms and surrender until dawn, persuading that they will open humanitarian corridors for civilians if Ukrainian forces surrender before dawn. Mariupol city officials gave a letter to Russian forces that read, “Do not waste time and open humanitarian corridors.” In response, Russian armed forces are launching even harsher bombardment in the city.
Russia is obsessed with capturing the city of Mariupol because it could determine the success of failure of its war in Ukraine. Capturing the port city would make it easier for Russian forces to defeat Ukrainian forces as it connects Crimea, which was forcibly annexed in 2014, with Donetsk People’s Republic formed by pro-Russia activists in eastern Donbas. The Washington Post (WP) wrote that if Mariupol falls, thee is a high possibility that the capital Kyiv and the second city Kharkiv will also fall under siege and be captured.
Among the total population of 470,000 in Mariupol, some 150,000 of them left the city early this month. Of the remaining 320,000, about 200,000 also tried to escape but are trapped in the besieged city for more than three weeks without food, water, gas and electricity supplies.
“People sheltering in basement had to resort to water from the heating radiator and melt snow for water. Whenever a long line formed at a creek for water, it would become the target of attacks by Russian forces,” a resident said. “I completely felt helpless because I knew I was not able to protect my son even though I desperately wrapped my body around my son every time a bomb dropped. It is too dangerous to retrieve dead bodies on the streets in Mariupol that stray dogs are seen eating the corpses on the streets.”
“I looked at the ground and there lay my little granddaughter with her head completely torn to pieces,” said Vladimir, who lost his daughter and four-year-old granddaughter when a shell landed near the shelter, during an interview with BBC. He said his daughter, who was right next to his granddaughter, suffered fractured legs and died from the injuries the next day. “God, why would you bring all this upon me? I was not supposed to bury my children, my lovely girls.”
Kristina Dzholas, who took shelter in the basement of a school with 200 people, told Sky News that a woman was wounded with a piece of shrapnel in the hip during a shelling and she was in extreme pain for 24 hours that she screamed for poison so she would die. “While you sleep at night, everything in you shakes, you wake up, cover up your child and wait for a bomb to fall,” Dzholas said.
Greece’s consul general in Mariupol Manolis Androulakis, who was the last EU diplomat to evacuate the city, said as he arrived in Greece. “Mariupol will become part of a list of cities that were completely destroyed by war,” said the diplomat, mentioning Leningrad, where more than 1 million people were killed due to a prolonged military siege by German forces during World War ll. “What I saw, I hope no one will ever see.”
One Ukrainian solider appeared in a video clip titled, “The last message from Mariupol” and asked U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron for aid, saying the promised weapons and ammunition have not arrived yet.
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