The city of Mariupol, located in the south of the Donetsk Oblast, was besieged during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when forces from Russia and the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic – which claimed the city – got into combat with the Ukrainian troops.
The battle, which was part of the Russian Eastern Ukraine offensive, started on February 24th, 2022 and ended on May 20th, 2022, when Russia announced that the remaining Ukrainian forces in Mariupol surrendered after they were ordered to cease fighting. Russian forces completely besieged the city on March 2nd, after which they gradually gained control of it. By April 22nd, the remaining Ukrainian forces had retreated to the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, a massive and highly defensible industrial complex. The Red Cross described the situation as “apocalyptic”, and Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of engineering a major humanitarian crisis in the city, whose officials reported that about 21,000 civilians had been killed at the time. Ukrainian officials also reported that at least 95% of the city had been destroyed during the fighting, largely by Russian bombardments. The siege of the metallurgical plant ended on May 16th 2022, after what media outlets called the “evacuation” or “surrender” of the remaining Ukrainian personnel from the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works; the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that the Ukrainians had “surrendered”, a word Ukraine avoided using.
Copyright foto: © Evgeny Maloletka