Besieged, Ukrainian city begs for help

Mayor Mariupol called for support and opened humanitarian corridors when the city lost power, water and was running out of food due to the siege of Russian forces.

Vadym Boychenko, mayor of the city Mariupolsoutheastern Ukraine, on March 4 called for military support and created a humanitarian corridor to evacuate some of its 400,000 people after five days of siege by Russian forces and continuous air raids.

“We are simply being destroyed,” Boychenko said on television, accusing Russian forces of shelling residential areas and hospitals. “They want to wipe out Mariupol and the city’s inhabitants.”

Fires in a residential area in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine after shelling on March 3.  Photo: Reuters.

Fires in a residential area in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine after shelling on March 3. Photo: Reuters.

The Russian military claims that the special military operation in Ukraine is not aimed at occupying territory, but to “demilitarize, de-fascistize” the neighboring country. Russian forces also denied that they targeted civilians in the attacks.

A deputy commander of the Azov military unit, part of the Ukrainian National Guard, said the Ukrainian army was holding up against the Russian attempt to attack Mariupol, but needed significant support.

“This is the last city to prevent the creation of a land corridor along the southeast coast to Crimea. Mariupol cannot be lost,” the commander posted on Telegram.

Russia and Ukraine on March 3 reached an agreement to open a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of civilians, the first clear breakthrough after two rounds of negotiations. Some Mariupol residents fled to the city center to escape shelling on the outskirts, 30-year-old businessman Ivan Yermolayev said. Yermolayev was taking shelter in the small basement of his city house and queuing for water at a well.

The city of Mariupol is located on the axis of the Russian army's offensive from Crimea during the military campaign in Ukraine.  Click on the photo to see details.

The city of Mariupol is located on the axis of the Russian army’s offensive from Crimea during the military campaign in Ukraine. Click on the photo to see details.

“They were with their children in the central area when they heard the news of the approaching war. “Many people were crying, scared, uncertain and panicking,” Yermolayev said.

In Mykolaivsouthern Ukraine, Vitaliy Kim, head of the city’s government, said Ukrainian and Russian forces were maintaining a tug-of-war around the city after a day of fierce fighting.

“We don’t shoot anymore. Neither do they,” he announced on Telegram, adding that Russian forces had left the military airport but remained “right near the city”. “I can’t call it a victory because the opponent is not knocked out, they have only partially retreated.”

Russia opened a special military operation in Ukraine from February 24 and the fighting has entered the 10th day. Russian forces have taken control of the big city. Kherson in southern Ukraine and is besieging and shelling a number of cities, including the capital Kiev and Kharkov, the second largest city in the country. Moscow insists it only targets military infrastructure.

The two countries’ delegations plan to hold the third round of talks later this week to find a solution to the hostilities. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow was ready to negotiate, but would continue its military campaign when the talks took place, because Russia could not allow “military infrastructure” to continue to exist. in Ukraine as a threat to Russia.

Ukraine’s parliament on March 3 passed a resolution calling on the United Nations to deploy peacekeepers to the country to “protect civilians”. Ukraine has repeatedly raised a proposal to deploy UN peacekeepers to its breakaway eastern region, but it has not been accepted.

Huyen Le (According to Reuters)

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