Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine has been under siege by Russian forces since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The control over the city is crucial to Russia because of its location and economic potential. If Russia seized control, it would secure a land corridor between the Crimean peninsula and Donbas, making this small city the top mission. Furthermore, the region has the biggest port in the Azov Sea and holds the main iron and steel factories.
Russians expected to have captured Mariupol within a few couple days. However, Ukrainians never let that happen. For more than 50 days, Ukrainian soldiers have held their positions, defending the city with enormous courage and audacity.
“They are over ten times more than us; they have planes and ships and a lot of equipment… But the Azov regiment continues to destroy the occupier on the streets of Ukraine,” soldiers of Mariupol report.
War is something we consider a tragedy and a major political, economic, and human rights issue that drives vulnerability. Still, people invented the law of war aimed at least minimizing civilian casualties and enormous devastation. But the rule of law is something Russia turns a blind eye to; their troops have no feelings. They destroy everything without pity and compassion.
The President of Ukraine reports tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in Mariupol already, but the situation might worsen after the de-occupation. The head of the Donetsk region says that the city is completely destroyed. The Russians forbid burying the bodies of loved ones, and they ruthlessly burn their war crimes in mobile crematoria. Russia uses “the best methods” of the Nazi era: according to the mayor, Mariupol residents wear identification badges, receive food for forced labor, and men go through filtration camps. Unfortunately, this is not the haunting story from the movie or book; this is the reality thousands of people face every single day.
“The Russians are holding the whole of Mariupol hostage and are gradually turning it into one big labor camp. In 1945, humanity defeated Nazism at the cost of tens of millions of lives. But this virus of pure evil has revived in Russia,” the city council reported.
The Ukrainian side has negotiated an evacuation corridor relying on the support of Turkish counterparts to ensure that Russian troops fully abide by their obligations to ensure a cease-fire during the evacuation of civilians, but it never happened. The Russians brutally violate any agreements and norms. They don’t care about the lives of women and children; they don’t care about anything. And for the most part, civilians are their target number one.
Serhiy Volyna, Commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade named after Rear Admiral Mykhailo Belinsky, reassures that any agreements with Russia are entirely fake. They never even possess to keep up to any regulations.
“Ukrainian authorities have negotiated humanitarian corridors with the Russians, involving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, the Russian side did not keep its word, and all the efforts were in vain. We beg the world for help in evacuating the wounded, children, women, and the bodies of the dead,” he says.
Ukrainian divisions in Mariupol are controlling the territory of the Azovstal plant, where at least 1,000 civilians are hiding. According to the defenders of the city, citizens who haven’t evacuated remain in the premises and basements of the plant, as their houses have been destroyed, and they do not want to be sent to the Russian Federation. Among them are women, children, and the elderly. Now Russia announced they would bomb the Ukrainian positions with all the brutal weaponry they have, as the Ukrainian army refused to surrender.
There is a 4-year-old baby girl in the basement with eyes full of hope and dreams of her future life. No one can guarantee she will have it. Ukrainian forces do not have enough weaponry. Many die in unbearable torment every day.
But those soldiers are heroes who, despite everything, continue to hold back thousands of enemy troops, preventing them from advancing. Now they have a challenge not only to fight the overwhelming forces of the enemy but also to take care of more than a thousand civilians.
“Mariupol is still a Ukrainian city, no matter what Russian propaganda tells you. We fight in fierce battles every day,” says Serhiy Volyna.
Ukrainian soldiers need help right now from the world. We can not leave behind those who give their lives to fight the darkness of this world, who fight for democracy.
“The enemy took the city in a ring and held hundreds of thousands of civilians hostage. In our military bunkers, women are hiding with children, including babies. It is ostly relatives of our military who the Russians want. Without heat, water, or food. We will not give up and will fight to the end. But our loyalty to the oath was not enough to liberate Mariupol. The city needs to be unblocked immediately. To do this, we need heavy weapons. It is in the power of the EU and the US to provide it to us. Heavy weapons for the defenders of Mariupol will save the Ukrainian military group,” requests the commender.
They beg the world for help in evacuating the wounded, children, women, and the bodies of the dead. The only hope is for the world.
The lives of those people in Mariupol are in our hands. Our voices can become a light to those who are left struggling in the darkness. Our engagement can be their hope and their future. Our solidarity is what conquers even the most furious enemy. Do not let those heroes die, do not let those children be left without a future.
– Anna Fratsyvir
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