Russia raises the threat on Mariupol with an ultimatum for its surrender | International
is the headline of the news that the author of WTM News has collected this article. Stay tuned to WTM News to stay up to date with the latest news on this topic. We ask you to follow us on social networks.
Mariupol is on its way to becoming one of the cities wiped almost to the ground: Gernika, Coventry, Aleppo, Grozny. This Sunday, after weeks of a very tight and virulent siege of the port city, intense bombing and a fierce siege, Russia has given an ultimatum to the Ukrainian forces: to hand over what remains of Mariupol, surrender and leave the town before five in the morning (Moscow time, four in the morning Ukrainian time and three in the morning Spanish peninsular time). The Russian Ministry of Defense remarks that a “human catastrophe” is taking place in the city and blames the “nationalist forces” for it. Moscow has accused kyiv of using “Nazis”, “foreign mercenaries” and “bandits” to hold hundreds of civilians hostage in the city. “Lower your weapons. All those who do so are guaranteed safe passage out of Mariupol,” demanded the director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management, Mikhail Mizintsev at a briefing this Sunday. “The Mariupol authorities now have the opportunity to make a decision and go over to the side of the people, otherwise the military court that awaits them is only a little bit of what they deserve for their terrible crimes, which the Russian side is carefully documenting. “, has added.
The ultimatum comes after days of an increasingly brutal assault on the city that has worsened in recent hours. And when the Kremlin, in yet another display of military muscle, used its new hypersonic missiles for the first time. He has done it against civilian areas in western Ukraine, not too far from NATO territory. Meanwhile, the fighting in Mariupol is very hard. Within hours of the expiration of the deadline given by the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin’s troops, who invaded Ukraine on February 24, already control three neighborhoods and are fighting in the center of the town, an area on fire and with buildings razed to the ground. foundations. In addition, they have taken control of the port. Meanwhile, the citizens of what was once a prosperous industrial city, try to get out of the Mariupol mousetrap through humanitarian corridors, under artillery fire and leaving their lives behind; on many occasions also leaving behind relatives and loved ones of whom after 25 days of war they no longer know anything. Mariupol has also become the city of the disappeared.
Many of those who were able to escape before what may be the final offensive wander through the state circus of Zaporizhia, in the south-central part of the country, which has become a place of first reception for those displaced by the invasion. A circus that is no longer a circus. Gone are the “funny clowns”, announced by the colorful poster of the function that should be represented these days: “Expression”. Nor “ball of courage, a unique and inimitable attraction where motorcyclists perform crazy and charming tricks inside a metal ball.” Now the Zaporizhia circus is a hub of lives broken by Putin’s war against Ukraine. Of evacuees trying to escape the bombs that have struck cities like Mariupol and who fear what else the city may suffer when the Kremlin’s ultimatum expires. Of people who search, who review the dozens of homemade posters pasted to the entrance, tracking down clues to their loved ones: a mother who was left behind in the flight, a brother with whom contact was lost weeks ago in the midst of the attacks, a husband who is believed captured by the Russian occupation forces, a father who may be one of those corpses that lie unpicked and unburied in the streets of what remains of the city on the Sea of Azov, besieged by Kremlin troops.
A poster with a picture of a boy: “Attention, residents of Mariupol: a team of artists from Ukraine, family and friends are looking for graphic artist Daniil Sergeevich Nemirovski (1993), who was in the shelter of the National Academy of Fine Arts until on March 1 and left to look for his insulin-dependent grandparents. Nothing has been heard from him since.” Vladimir has been standing very still for a long time, reading all the messages. He is looking for his wife, Alexandra, 32 years old. “We were separated for a few months, but I want to know how she is, where, I don’t know anything about her,” he says. He escaped from Mariupol on Thursday by car with several co-workers. They joined a humanitarian convoy and now search and search in the Zaporizhia circus.
Every name, every letter in those dozens of messages is a story. And maybe a dozen people who miss her and look for her. Or more. How many people would notice if one day we were missing. On Friday, a woman with two small children put up a sign with her name, her phone number and a message asking for clues from her husband. Russian soldiers took him away six days earlier. She didn’t see him again. How she escapes from hell when she leaves behind, in horror, a loved one.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
With the advance of the Kremlin troops somewhat stalled in the offensive, Putin’s forces are applying ferociously against civilian targets and reinforcing the siege of Mariupol, a key piece for Russia. Since Russia surrounded it, some 24,000 people had managed until Saturday to get out of the mousetrap that the port town has become (with some 400,000 registered before this war), which has been strangled for weeks, bombed, without water, electricity, gas or heating, where food and drugs are scarce.
But it is believed that some 300,000 people may still remain there, in the midst of heavy fighting, in a situation that health organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross, with personnel on the ground, describe as “catastrophic”. One of the Ukrainian regiments fighting in the city, the Azov battalion (which began in 2014 as an ultra-nationalist volunteer militia until the Armed Forces absorbed it as part of the national guard), claims that four warships have bombed the city. city from the sea, which they already control completely. Also, the AzovStal metallurgical plant, the largest in Europe.
While they make their way in the conquest of Mariupol, Putin’s troops, who as part of that ultimatum also offer a ceasefire until 10 a.m. in Moscow (8:00 a.m. Spanish peninsular time) to organize evacuations from the city, have implemented the strategy of capturing the civilian population and deporting them against their will to Russia, say the Ukrainian authorities. And to divert some of the humanitarian corridors to escape the hell of a burning city to the aggressor country. “What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrible events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said in a statement. Post on your Telegram channel. “It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century people will be forcibly deported to another country.” The policy of arrests is also repeated in the cities occupied by mayors, councillors, journalists and people who have organized marches against the invasion and the Russian troops. Putin’s forces have conquered Berdyansk, Kherson, Melitopol and others. But they have to keep them. Not only in front of the Ukrainian Army: there the citizens have not received them with flowers.
Attack on an art school
Attacks are constant in Mariupol. This Sunday, while the emergency services were looking for survivors of the attack on Thursday at the Drama Theater of the city, where according to the authorities hundreds of people were sheltering and only 130 have been rescued so far, a new bombing broke out in an art school, in the east of the city, where some 400 people were hiding, according to the City Council. kyiv has accused Russia of this new indiscriminate attack against the civilian population in its scorched earth strategy. Moscow assures that it does not attack civilian targets and in turn accuses the Ukrainian authorities and the kyiv Army of staging farces to blame the Kremlin and of bombing their own citizens.
Some 4,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol, according to local authorities, since the fighting began. The city is geostrategically very important for Putin because it would allow the creation of a land corridor from Crimea (which Russia illegally annexed in 2014) to the Donbas territories, which Moscow controls through pro-Russian separatists. But it is also very symbolic because it is the headquarters of the Azov battalion.
Those 4,000 dead, however, are just an estimate. At first, officials in Mariupol kept a count — even a small map — with the intention of organizing the collection of the bodies. Then it became impossible. There are mass graves with unidentified people. Perhaps one of those names from the Zaporizhia circus posters. Or from the Telegram groups in which neighbors desperately exchange any useful information. And videos of the city. And photos in which you can see the destruction of their houses.
Viktoria Káshpor has put up a sign at the Zaporizhia circus to search for her grandparents, her sister and her nephew. She arrived in the city on Friday with her husband, her two children and her son-in-law. “I don’t know where the rest of my family is. Not what they need. I know my grandparents stayed in her garage, but we couldn’t get there. They bombed my house and from March 4 we hid in the basement with other people. We didn’t go out for two and a half weeks. My daughter came looking for me, she grabbed my hand and we just ran,” she recounts. They passed 19 controls. Several of them from the Russian troops, who have already taken control of a good swath of the southeast of the country.
Viktoria was able to shower on Friday for the first time in three weeks. And sleep in an apartment (borrowed), in a bed, with glass in the windows. But she also says that although she is not under constant bombardment now, she has heating, water, gas and food, she cannot rest because she does not know what has become of her loved ones. “I tried to send them messages that we are here, I tell everyone, every person I meet, in case someone knows them or finds them, or knows what has become of them. They may even arrive and they no longer have a mobile phone, but they read these messages, ”says the 45-year-old woman, who is now one of the 10 million people who have had to leave their homes because of Putin’s war.
Like an older couple, from Enerhodar, where Russian troops occupied the nuclear power plant, eating a bowl of soup at the Zaporizhia amusement center, where the ticket booths are now a registration point and a popcorn stand — sweet and salty — , an improvised pharmacy. The circus has already served some 4,500 people who have fled from different cities in the southeast of the country, explains Vladislav Moroco, city councilor for culture and now one of the center’s managers. Donated coats and sweaters hang on the coat racks in the cloakroom. On the floor, a rosary of canning jars. A little further on, dozens of pairs of shoes await the arrival of the displaced who have not yet managed to leave after numerous failed humanitarian corridors.
A sign in pointed cursive letters between the circus announcements reads: “Attention, Nosurov Vladimir and Ludmila Nosurova tracks (91 years old); Goltvenko Natalia (92 years old); Gotvenko Alexander (91 years old). Someone’s parents? Uncles? Grandparents? Another advertisement with a Mariupol address features a photograph of a smiling woman with short hair and a summer dress: “Borisova Natalia Evgenievna (1964). Nothing has been heard from her since March 2.” Another one, in blue pen and hasty handwriting: “I am looking for my mother, Svetlana Baranovich (64). She missing in Mariupol since March 1”.
Follow all the international information in Facebook and Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.