Connect with us

Uncategorized

The Press in Ukraine | The Russian army besieges the city of Mariupol

Published

on

(Mariupol) On the fifth day of its offensive against Ukraine, Russia now controls all the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov. Only the industrial port of Mariupol and its 400,000 inhabitants resist, now completely surrounded.

On Monday morning, the armored columns broke through the Ukrainian defense lines, after days of heavy and relentless shelling that left dozens of civilian casualties in nearby villages. Forced to retreat, the Ukrainian army blew up the bridge over the Kalmius River between the townships of Talakivka and Sartana, hoping to slow the Russian advance.

“Our soldiers fought like devils, but they had been under a constant barrage of fire night and day for too long. The enemy is pounding relentlessly as if it had unlimited ammunition,” laments Viatcheslav, 48, a reservist summoned by the army. Reached by telephone, he does not want to say a word about Ukrainian losses, preferring to emphasize the “monstrous” losses on the Russian side. “Putin sends young people to the slaughter as if the fertility of Russian mothers were infinite. Their losses are much higher than ours,” he says. Information unverifiable on both sides for now.

On the western flank, an offensive from Crimea, annexed in 2014, covered 320 km, capturing two cities in its path, Melitopol and Berdiansk, to arrive at the gates of Mariupol.

Fear and shortages

Even before being surrounded by Russian forces, Mariupol felt under siege. The fear of enemy infiltration and shortages hit hard the inhabitants who were unable to flee the iron and steel capital in time.


PHOTO CARLOS BARRIA, REUTERS

Mariupol residents at a gas station last Thursday

The gasoline shortage has now been total for three days. Only military vehicles, ambulances and police have supplies. All gas stations are closed, and you have to travel more than 100 km to find an open station. In theory, because in practice, the checkpoints installed around the city have become almost impassable since midday Saturday.

“When I wanted to come back from Zaporizhia [80 km au nord-ouest, dernière route de ravitaillement ouverte] in Mariupol, I was first interrogated for three hours by the SBU [services de sécurité ukrainiens] at the exit of Zaporijjia, then again at the entrance to Mariupol,” confided to The Press Igor, a retired nuclear engineer.

The security forces are on the alert and no longer let anyone in who is not officially registered as a resident of Mariupol. Everyone is afraid of DRGs [sigle russe pour groupe de reconnaissance et de sabotage].

Igor, retired nuclear engineer

Local official news is dominated by the daily announcement of arrests and neutralizations of DRGs. Consequently, to further limit the circulation of civilians in the streets, the municipality has established a very strict curfew between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m., accompanied by the removal of public lighting. Public transport has ceased to operate, except during peak hours. Because the two giant metallurgical factories of Mariupol must never stop. All businesses are closed, except pharmacies and grocery stores. The inhabitants, who continue to circulate on foot even in the most exposed districts of the left bank, are used to living with the explosions.

“The fear subsided, and the sounds of war became familiar,” said Dmitro Chichera, director of the Mariupol volunteer coordination center. “Kids recognize grads [roquettes multiples]. We don’t even prick up our ears anymore. People automatically distinguish a shot from an impact and assess like soldiers whether the situation is safe or whether to pick up the children from school. »

Degradation of daily life

Since February 24, the daily life of the Mariupolitains has deteriorated rapidly, as the noose closes in on the city. On Monday, rocket fire from one or two Russian Su-25 ground-attack planes at a high-voltage line knocked out a large swath of the city. Many hospitals overloaded with serious injuries had to be urgently connected to emergency generators.


PHOTO EVGENIY MALOLETKA, ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Nurse in a hospital in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine

The incessant salvoes of rockets and the rain of shells on the outskirts of Mariupol are beginning to bite into residential areas and kill civilians. On Saturday, ten residents of the bordering villages of Spartana and Bouhas were killed by Russian army fire. And four others were killed on Sunday in the same area.

“Putin claims to save us from the Nazis, but he behaves like them,” vituperates Vyatcheslav, a forty-year-old who came to accompany his wife and two children to the railway station, so that they could be evacuated.

Vladimir Putin made a fatal mistake by attacking us. He led us all to unite in a life-and-death struggle to keep our homeland. We Ukrainians, who are still divided between oligarchs and masses, rich and poor, east and west. And this unity, the Russians will not be able to break it. We will fight until the end.

Vyacheslav, resident of Mariupol

But the phlegm and confidence shown by the Mariupolitains in recent weeks, in the face of the threat of Russian invasion, are beginning to crumble quickly in the face of a harsh reality. The town hall is struggling to facilitate the evacuation of the Mariupolitains who are least resistant to stress. Free train carriages left the city from Thursday bound for Zaporizhia. All the places are occupied, and the evacuations take place without scenes of panic. But not without tears. Irina, a 17-year-old student, sobs and hugs her father who remains behind. “I don’t know when I’ll see my family again and I don’t know where I’m going either,” she explains to The Press. I only have 1500 hryvnias [environ 63 $ CAN] in your pocket to go to my aunt’s in Lviv [dans l’ouest du pays], but I will not be able to stay at her place, there is no room. I want to go to Europe and not live this nightmare anymore. »

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *