The city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine is “in the hands of the occupiers today,” Vadym Boychenko, the city’s mayor stated during an interview with the UNIAN news agency on Monday.
The city has been the target of Russian attacks since the early days of the war. After troops besieged the city, hundreds of thousands of residents were trapped in the city without basic necessities such as food, power, and water.
“According to our estimates, about 160,000 people are in the besieged city of Mariupol today where it is impossible to live because there is no water, no electricity, no heat, no connection,” the mayor stated.
Russian attacks on Mariupol have destroyed 90% of residential buildings in the city
Ukrainian authorities estimate that Russian attacks have left 90% of residential buildings in Mariupol damaged or destroyed.
Additionally, seven hospitals have been damaged or destroyed. This amounts to the destruction of 90% of the hospital beds.
Before Russian troops invaded the city, Mariupol was home to over 400,000 people. According to Ukrainian figures, hundreds of thousands of people have fled the city, and around 30,000 have been deported to Russia.
Boychenko called for the entire city, which has nearly been reduced to rubble, to be evacuated on Monday. However, he claims that the Russian troops are preventing civilians from leaving the city.
“We need a complete evacuation from Mariupol…Our most important mission today is to save every life…there are 26 buses that have to go to Mariupol to evacuate, but unfortunately, they haven’t received permission to move,” he stressed.
Mariupol’s mayor called the situation in the city a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
Boychenko noted that Russian troops have not yet gained control of the city: “Today the city of Mariupol remains a Ukrainian city…Our military is doing everything to keep it that way in the future.”
He also argued that Russia’s attacks on the city amount to “genocide.”
“The task was to wipe the city off the face of the earth along with its inhabitants…This is genocide, there is no other way to call what is happening,” he said.
According to official figures from the Ukrainian authorities, around 2,100 civilians in Mariupol have been killed by Russian attacks, but Boychenko believes the real number is much higher and estimates it is actually around 5,000 people.
Ukraine prepared for talks with Russia
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that he is prepared to discuss the adoption of a status of neutrality as part of a peace deal with Russia.
As the next round of face-to-face negotiations between Ukraine and Russia take place this week in Turkey, Zelensky has told independent Russian journalists that important points are “security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state” that he is “ready to go for ….”
But he added that the proposal would have to go to a referendum and be guaranteed by third parties.
Zelensky said Ukraine refused to discuss certain other Russian demands, such as the demilitarization of the country.