Since the first days of the invasion of Ukraine, the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been severely tested. Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the main Ukrainian port of Mariupol was a troubled place. Yet this industrial center pulsated with life.
The city had several music schools, a museum of local history, the Kuindji Gallery (Archip Ivanovich Kuindji was a Ukrainian painter of Greek descent who devoted himself mainly to landscape painting) and the Russian City Theater. In addition to many Orthodox churches, the city also had a mosque and an old synagogue. Mariupol was home to the Ukrainian football club FK Mariupol and the successful basketball club BK Azovmash Mariupol. The city had two large metallurgical plants and the largest engineering plant in the country Azovmash. There was also a chemical industry, shipyards and other businesses. Mariopol's transport infrastructure included shipping, railways, the international airport and, in addition to buses and coaches (shared taxis that run on a scheduled route, but at irregular intervals - departing when busy), trams and trolleybuses. Mariupol is located on the E58 international road leading from Central Europe via Odessa, Berdyansk, Mariupol and Taganrog to Rostov-on-Don.
Thanks to two large factories in the city, the local air deteriorated and the sea coast lost its former freshness and beauty, so Mariupol was not considered a tourist town. However, this did not prevent many tourists from visiting the city and spending summer holidays by the sea. The best sandy beaches of Mariupol are located outside the city and the locals have always been able to advise where to go. Since the end of the 20th century, when the population of Mariupol exceeded half a million, the population has been declining slightly. Nevertheless, before the war, there were almost 500,000 people living in Mariupol - Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Belarusians, Armenians, Jews and Bulgarians. We have intentionally written this paragraph in the past, because it is very likely that many of the above no longer exist.
In order not to make a mistake, the frequent word Azov appearing in the names has nothing to do with the Azov battalion, but on the contrary, the Special Deployment Section of the National Guard of Ukraine Azov has its name derived from the Azov Sea, which is considered part of the Black Sea. strait. It lies between Crimea (in the southwest), southern Ukraine (in the north) and Russian Cubans (in the east).
Industry, port, location all this and much more was the reason why Mariupol became a major strategic target for Russian and pro-Russian forces. The Battle of Mariupol was preceded by artillery bombing of the city by Russian forces. The Russian Navy also launched an amphibious assault on the coast of the Sea of Azov west of Mariupol, creating a bridgehead and training thousands of Russian Marines. The artillery bombing continued, and in addition to Ukrainian men, women and children, Greek and Russian civilians living in Mariupol were also dying. The Russian shelling did not escape either the six-year-old girl or the dogs and their old mistress ...
Any ceasefire agreements to evacuate civilians have regularly failed. At the beginning of March, after three days of intense shelling, an armistice was announced, which was to last 5 hours. Civilians then began to evacuate from Mariupol through a humanitarian corridor to the city of Zaporizhia. However, when civilians entered the evacuation corridor, the Russian army continued to shell and the evacuation was quickly brought into chaos and the evacuees were forced to return.
During March, the city of Mariupol is collapsing, there is no electricity, no water, no food. Nevertheless, Ukrainian soldiers, especially the Azov Regiment, heroically defend themselves against Russian forces and wage infernal battles. On March 11, 2022, Father Paul, a Greek Catholic priest from Mariupol, declared "Mariupol is like Armageddon, it's hell. Tell the world it's a tragedy. The Russians are shooting at us at random, the whole city is one big battlefield ..."
According to the Kremlin, a special military mission in Ukraine is trying to save Mariupol, among other things, but it is quite demonstrable that the Russian army did not come to "liberate" Mariupol, but to erase it from the earth's surface and its inhabitants. The occupiers forcibly transport Ukrainians to Russia, and the use of Russian chemical weapons is also speculated. News from Mariupol reports on the brutal behavior of Russian soldiers - people burned alive, raped and killed women and children.
April 2022 in the besieged city of Mariupol, the last major battle for the Azovstal industrial plant takes place, where the center of the special deployment of the National Guard of Ukraine Azov is located.
Azovstal Metallurgical Combine is one of the largest steel rolling companies in Ukraine. On April 13, 2022, Ukrainian soldiers of the 36th Marine Brigade, who found themselves surrounded by Russians in Mariupol, managed to break through and unite with the Azov Regiment.
If the Russians occupied the Azovstal industrial plant, they would have full control over Mariupol, Ukraine's main port. There are still more than 100,000 civilians in the city. The infantry was destroyed and Mariupol is also defended by drivers, cooks, and even orchestra members. Independent estimates of the victims of Russia's relentless bombing are not available, Russian bombs are falling everywhere and hospitals and theater are inevitable. Preliminary estimates so far refer to 22,000 civilian deaths in Mariupol.