Ukrainian governor says city of Mariupol ‘wiped off the face of the earth’
The Ukrainian governor overseeing Mariupol on Friday said the port city has been “wiped off the face of the earth” by relentless Russian strikes and shelling.
Asked if Russia could effectively take control of Mariupol, Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, told CNN the city was “no more,” leaving Russians with nothing left to seize.
“The enemy may seize the land Mariupol used to stand on, but the city of Mariupol has been wiped off the face of the earth by the Russian Federation, by those who will never be able to restore it,” he said. “To restore Mariupol, that is something only Ukraine can do.”
Russia has besieged the city on the Sea of Azov since the beginning of the invasion on Feb. 24. Mariupol has seen some of the worst attacks and casualties of the war, including the death of at least 300 people after a theater was bombed and a strike against a maternity hospital.
The mayor of the city estimated this week that more than 10,000 civilians have died in Mariupol since the siege began and that corpses have “carpeted the streets,” according to The Associated Press.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the city, which Russian troops encircled, depriving the remaining residents of water, food and electricity. Fighting continues to break out in the streets.
President Biden has called Russia actions in Ukraine a “genocide.” The U.S. has called for investigations of war crimes committed by Russian forces under the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Despite the brutal attacks, the territory of Mariupol is still under Ukrainian control. Kyrylenko told CNN Ukrainian forces are fighting courageously against Russian troops and are still holding on to whatever is left of Mariupol.
“The Ukrainian flag flies over the city of Mariupol, whatever anyone may say,” the governor said.
Russian forces have retreated from Kyiv and are reportedly regrouping in the eastern region of the country for a more concentrated assault.
Capturing the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine is likely part of Russia’s next offensive. By taking the land near Mariupol, Russia hopes to assume control of a land bridge connected to the Crimean Peninsula.
Kyrylenko told CNN he has yet to see a “full-scale offensive from all directions” in his region, but that could change in a few days.
“I have been calling on all the population in the area to evacuate as soon as possible,” he said, “because the enemy is not going to wait. They have a column of heavy armored vehicles waiting with personnel … and they will continue heavy artillery strikes on civilian populations.”
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