The port city of Mariupol in Ukraine has been ’90 percent destroyed’ after being besieged by Russian forces, its mayor Vadym Boichenko said on Monday, April 4, 2022.
‘The sad news is that 90 percent of the infrastructure in the city is destroyed and 40 percent is unrecoverable,’ Boichenko told a press conference. Around 130,000 people remained trapped in the city, he said.
Mariupol has been under constant Russian bombardment for more than a month, and is the site of perhaps the most egregious examples of war crimes committed by Putin’s forces.
Indiscriminate bombing campaigns and ground attacks have reduced acres of the city to rubble and have likely left thousands dead, though an official civilian death toll for the city is yet to be announced.
Russia has also continued its attacks on other civilian areas over the weekend, with eight people killed and 34 wounded after shelling hit the southern Ukrainian cities of Mykolaiv and Ochakiv on Sunday, prosecutors in Kyiv said.
‘The Russian armed forces attacked the cities of Ochakiv and Mykolaiv. Shelling damaged residents’ homes, vehicles, and civilian infrastructure,’ the Ukrainian prosecutor general said in a statement today.
However, Putin’s invasion suffered another devastating blow this weekend after it was revealed his force’s death toll rose to 18,300 yesterday, according to Kyiv’s estimates, while battling Ukrainian troops reclaimed more towns in the north.
Russia has only admitted to the deaths of 1,351 of its troops since Putin invaded on February 24, but this is a fraction of the figures estimated by Ukraine’s armed forces and Western defence officials.
According to Ukrainian reports as of April 3, the Russian forces have lost over 18,000 soldiers and officers, including seven generals, 644 tanks, 1,830 armoured combat vehicles, 325 artillery systems, 105 MLR systems, 54 air defence units, 143 warplanes, 134 helicopters, 1,249 vehicles, seven warships, 76 fuel tank trucks, 89 operational and tactical-level UAVs, 24 units of special equipment, and four mobile SRBM systems.
Video footage emerged of the defenders launching a series of blistering attacks on Russian tanks and armoured vehicles.
A pair of videos released today appeared to show two Russian convoys being decimated by missiles fired by Ukrainian armed forces, who were thought to be using British-supplied Javelin anti-tank weapons.
The missiles can be seen streaking through the air over rolling fields before slamming into a set of Russian armoured vehicles trundling in single file down a slim road.
Several of the military machines erupted into flames as they were brought to a halt in the aftermath of the attack, while another video showed a huge explosion and raging fireball which came as a result of a Ukrainian strike on a Russian fuel tanker.
Ukraine’s forces have taken to blitzing Russian resupply convoys in an effort to disrupt deliveries of fuel and supplies to Putin’s troops on the frontline – a tactic which helped the defenders to repel repeated Russian assaults on the outskirts of Kyiv in recent weeks before Putin’s troops began to retreat.
The Command of the Special Operations Forces, SSO, of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said: ‘This is how soldiers of the SSO of Ukraine are fighting to bring down the enemy, by cutting off the Russian occupiers from what is needed, we are weakening their units.’
In a further blow to Putin’s war, Ukrainian forces have also retaken some towns in the northern Chernihiv region, whilst Russian forces no longer occupied any areas in the Sumy region, in Ukraine’s northeast. The governor of Zhytomyr also declared today that Russian troops had been expelled from the region.
‘They left, leaving part of their vehicles, leaving part of their munitions,’ Governor Vitaliy Bunechko said in an online post.
Russia is continuing to build up both its soldiers and mercenaries from the notorious Wagner Group, a private military company known as ‘Putin’s private army’, in eastern Ukraine, British intelligence chiefs said.
Across the country, Ukrainian forces are also preparing for what its general staff said were about 60,000 Russian reservists called in to reinforce the offensive there.
‘Russian forces are continuing to consolidate and reorganize as they refocus their offensive into the Donbas region in the east of Ukraine,’ Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence briefing today.
It said Russian troops are being moved into the area, along with mercenaries from the Wagner private military group. Moscow says it is currently focusing its offensive on the Donbas, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for years.
Meanwhile Russian shelling hit the eastern city of Kharkiv on Sunday, killing at least seven people and wounding 34, including three children, local prosecutors said.
Missiles also struck near the southern port of Odesa, with Russia saying it had destroyed an oil refinery used by the Ukrainian military. The Odesa city council said ‘critical infrastructure facilities’ were hit.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of eastern Luhansk region, said Russia was building up forces to break through Ukrainian defences.
‘I am urging residents to evacuate. The enemy will not stop, it will destroy everything in its path,’ he said in comments carried on Ukrainian television.
Overnight, the UK said Russia was still trying to take the southern port city of Mariupol, which has seen weeks of intense fighting.
Intelligence chiefs said ‘the city continues to be subject to intense, indiscriminate strikes, but Ukrainian Forces maintain a staunch resistance, retaining control in central areas.’
‘Mariupol is almost certainly a key objective of the Russian invasion,’ the MoD said, ‘as it will secure a land corridor from Russia to the occupied territory of Crimea,’ in the south, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
Ukraine says it has evacuated thousands of civilians in recent days from the port city of Mariupol, which has been decimated from a siege and bombardment over a month, with only the skeletons of residential tower blocks remaining on some streets after the shelling.
Convoys of armoured vehicles belonging to pro-Russia forces have been seen near Mariupol.
Ukraine evacuated more than 2,600 people from Mariupol and the region of Luhansk on Sunday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
But a Red Cross team were not able to reach the besieged city on Monday to evacuate civilians, a spokesperson said, citing security conditions.
‘Due to security conditions, our team has not been able to reach Mariupol today,’ spokesperson Jason Straziuso said in emailed comments to Reuters.
Previous attempts by the Red Cross to reach the city over recent days and weeks have not succeeded. Russia has blamed the charity for the delays.
Battling Ukrainian forces have also retaken some towns in the Chernihiv region, with the road between the city of Chernihiv and the capital Kyiv said to be reopening to some traffic later today, news agency RBK Ukraina reported.
Chernihiv has been cut off from from shipments of food and other supplies for weeks. The mayor said Sunday that relentless Russian shelling had destroyed 70 percent of the city.
Russian forces also no longer occupy any towns or villages in the Sumy region and had mostly withdrawn, while Ukrainian troops were working to push out the remaining units, the regional governor said today. The troops had occupied the area for nearly a month.
Speaking on national television, Governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi said Russian troops had abandoned a lot of equipment in the region, which lies on Ukraine’s border with Belarus.
While Western officials initially said they believed Putin’s goal was to take Kyiv and potentially install a Kremlin-friendly government, Russian forces faced stiff resistance outside the capital and on other fronts, and have now retreated from some areas.
In some areas recently retaken from Russian troops, Ukrainian officials say they have recovered hundreds of slain civilians in the past few days.
Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says the bodies of 410 civilians, many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture, have been recovered from towns surrounding Kyiv.
In Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, Associated Press journalists saw 21 bodies. One group of nine, all in civilian clothes, were scattered around a site that residents said Russian troops used as a base. They appeared to have been shot at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs.
In Motyzhyn, to the west of Kyiv, AP journalists saw the bodies of four people who appeared to have been shot at close range and thrown into a pit. Residents said the mayor, her son, and her husband – who had been bound and blindfolded – were among them.
In a video address Sunday, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the alleged targeted killings of civilians in towns that the Russians occupied, calling the killers ‘freaks who do not know how to do otherwise.’
He warns that more atrocities may be revealed if Russian forces are driven out of other occupied areas.
International leaders have condemned the reported attacks in the Kyiv-area towns after harrowing accounts from civilians and graphic images of bodies with hands tied behind their backs.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the allegations, describing the scenes outside Kyiv as a ‘stage-managed anti-Russian provocation.’ He said the mayor of Bucha made no mention of atrocities a day after Russian troops left last week, but two days later scores of bodies were photographed scattered in the streets.
He said Russia is pushing for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the matter, but the UK, which currently chairs the body, has refused to convene it. The United States and Britain have accused Russia in recent weeks of using Security Council meetings to spread disinformation.
European leaders, meanwhile, left no doubt about who they thought was behind the killings.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said ‘the Russian authorities are responsible for these atrocities, committed while they had effective control of the area.’
‘The perpetrators of war crimes and other serious violations as well as the responsible government officials and military leaders will be held accountable,’ he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that there is ‘clear evidence of war crimes’ in Bucha that demand new measures. ‘I’m in favor of a new round of sanctions and in particular on coal and petrol. We need to act,’ he said on France-Inter radio.
Source: Daily Mail