Ukrainian city Mariupol ‘near to humanitarian catastrophe’

The major Ukrainian port city of Mariupol was “on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe” on Wednesday, according to the city’s deputy mayor, following more than 15 hours of continuous bombing by Russian forces.

“Artillery, multiple rocket launch systems, aeroplanes, and tactical rockets are all being used by the Russian army here. They’re attempting to demolish the city “Sergiy Orlov stated the following.

Russian soldiers were several kilometres from the city on all sides, according to Mr Orlov, and had initiated strikes on crucial infrastructure, cutting water and power supplies to areas of the city. On the city’s left bank, he claimed, one heavily populated residential neighbourhood had been “almost completely demolished.”

“We are unable to estimate the number of victims, but we assume there are at least hundreds of them. We are unable to enter the building to retrieve the dead. My father lives there; I can’t get in touch with him, and I’m not sure if he’s living or dead.”

Mr Orlov said Russian forces had attacked pump stations and electricity transformers, and there were food shortages in some parts of the city, creating worries of a humanitarian disaster.

Mariupol is a crucial strategic target for Russia since capturing it would allow Russian-backed separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine to join forces with Russian troops in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. So far, the Ukrainian army has held off Russian forces in critical areas of the country, but increased aerial bombardment of cities has fuelled fears that Russia is changing tactics.

“The Ukrainian army is incredibly brave, and they will continue to defend the city,” Mr Orlov added, “but the Russian army’s style is like pirates’ – they don’t fight with their troops, but instead destroy entire neighbourhoods.”

“We have faith in our Ukrainian army, but we are in dire straits.”

On Wednesday, the Russian invasion of Ukraine took a devastating toll on civilians, with residential areas in many significant cities being attacked. More than 2,000 civilians have been murdered in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s invasion, according to emergency services, though media was unable to independently verify the figure. On Tuesday, the UN announced that at least 136 civilians had been killed, though it believes the actual number is greater.

On Wednesday, there were fears that the death toll would rise as Russian troops looked to surround Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and Kherson, the country’s port city.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian soldiers said Russian paratroopers landed near Kharkiv, sparking street fighting on the city’s outskirts. A cruise missile struck a municipal council meeting, blowing off the roof of the building and wounded three people, according to local officials. In the last 24 hours, at least 18 people have been killed in the city.

Residents in Kharkiv told media that they were being bombarded by aircraft. “Living under this strain is exhausting and terrifying,” Iryna Ruzhynska, 40, who was sheltering with her family in her second-floor flat on Wednesday, said.

Ms Ruzhynska explained, “We put scotch tape on the windows and pillows by the window stills.” “We don’t switch on the lights; instead, we use the flashlights on our phones. We made it to the supermarket yesterday, but after a four-hour wait, there was almost no food left.”

Despite being surrounded, the Russian defence ministry claimed possession of Kherson, a city of almost 250,000 people just north of Crimea. However, local authorities insisted the city was still under Ukrainian administration. Russian troops appeared in the centre of Kherson, according to video footage authenticated by media.

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