Russian control in Ukraine: dark times in dying city of Mariupol



A destroyed residential building in Mariupol, Ukraine on 22 April

Anna Raley, News Editor

Fear and languor has overwhelmed Mariupol, Ukraine as it has now endured over two months of Russian occupation. Accounts depicted through the New York Times and other major new organizations relay to the masses the atrocities that residents of Mariupol have endured. 

Numbers are recorded on the back of each resident’s hand, harboring a disturbing process of deindividualization and dehumanization. Each numbered civilian is reported to line up for rations at 6 a.m. and subjected to the Russian national anthem and following, the anthem of the separatist Ukrainian region, or the Donetsk People’s Republic. 

Desperation to leave the dying city is palpable as thousands of battered cars line the roads preparing to leave Mariupol. Because of its location on the Sea of Azov, Russian forces saw the eastern city of Mariupol as a target city and, one bomb at a time, began to cut electricity, water, food supplies, and cellphone/radio/television towers. A full blockade was put in place as the last connections to civilian life were cut off in the small city. 

Children were hit hard at first. Ambulances were unable to support the wounded due to lack of communication and the inability to navigate the demolished streets. The forced isolation and sense of alienation had filled Ukrainian people with a loss of information. In conjunction with Mariupol being stripped of their ability to contact the outside world, Russia began to flood the media with disinformation. Russian Embassy in London published two tweets alleging related Associated Press photos as fake, stating that the pregnant woman shown bombed early March was an actress.The Russian ambassador, at a U.N. Security Council physically held up copies of the AP photo and spat lies regarding the attack on the Ukrainian maternity hospital.

Journalists, who have been inundated with paranoia relating to the inevitability of punishment by Russian Officials, quicken their efforts to flee Ukraine. Those who do remain in Mariupol are exhausted with families asking about news from the war and people requesting that reporters broadcast to their families outside of the city that they are, in fact, alive. The news that Mariupol citizens do receive is riddled with Russian propaganda. Radios and TVs were relaying to Ukrainian civilians that they were the ones holding Mariupol hostage, they were the ones developing chemical weapons and destroying buildings. 

However despite these allegations, Ukrainian citizens still remain the ones who are forced to take shelter from the destruction of the city. On Tuesday May 3rd, Aid workers were able to evacuate over 150 women and children who had been sheltered for weeks in bunkers underneath a steel plant in the ruined city. With this successful evacuation shedding light upon the ruins, Western allies advance pressure on Russia. Britain’s Defense Ministry stated that Moscow’s military has “displayed failures in both strategic planning and operational execution.” Following, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson told the Ukrainian Parliament that the country’s resistance will rank as its “finest hour” , this being the first foreign leader to present a speech directed towards the Ukrainian Parliament. In addition to the support shown by the British Parliament, Germany’s chancellor promised to back Sweden and Finland’s NATOs membership, under the condition that they join the alliance against Russia. 

Support is further depicted in calls for accountability throughout the war. There has been increasing demand for investigations and trials held for the Russian invaders including that of President Vladimir Putin. United States President, Joe Biden went as far as accusing President Putin of genocide.

The courts called into action include the International Criminal Court and special war crimes tribunals that have the capacity to place suspects in war on trial. There has been an international cooperation in complying an extensive criminal case file for the offenders at hand, however, Russian authorities remain diligent in the act of denying all responsibility for civilian murder. Spoken to the New York Times, international law professor at Washington University stated, “Everybody wants the war to stop, and save Ukraine immediate pain, and see the chief perpetrators in the dock. Unfortunately, that is not going to be quick.”