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Mandatory Credit: Photo by EyePress News/Shutterstock (12873665e)
A view of destruction of the city of besieged Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on Saturday March 26, 2022. There is mounting evidence of mass graves in the besieged city of Mariupol, official of the UN human rights team currently in Ukraine said on Friday, as Russia hinted it was scaling back its invasion to focus on eastern Ukraine. Matilda Bogner, head of a UN human rights team currently in the country, said monitors had received information about graves in the southeastern port city, including one that appeared to hold 200 bodies. The claims of mass graves in the city came as Ukraine said it feared around 300 people had been killed in the Mariupol theatre bombing on 16 March
Besieged Mariupol Destruction, Ukraine – 26 Mar 2022
Content warning: This photo essay includes upsetting images, including death.
Mariupol was always going to be in Vladimir Putin’s sights. Not only is it a major port, it is sandwiched between two of Russia’s previous land grabs – to the West is the Russian occupied Crimean peninsula; to the east is Donetsk, the supposed “people’s republic” controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Take Mariupol, make a landbridge and gain vital access to the Black Sea.
Russia began its assault on Mariupol on 24 February, along with the rest of Ukraine, but ramped it up into a full-on siege on 2 March. Since then Russia has made considerable gains, thanks in part to increasingly brutal tactics which have plunged the city’s citizens into a situation that Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has described as “inhuman”. After announcing that civilians would be allowed to escape via safe routes, Russia then bombed them as they attempted to flee. Many of the buildings have been reduced to rubble. There has been one alleged use of chemical weapons. At the time of publication, the last of Mariupol’s defenders were sheltering in a steel factory, with Vladimir Putin ordering his forces to blockade them “so that not even a fly comes through”.
This photo essay is the story of Russia’s siege of Mariupol – a study of brutality and of defiance.
Photographs by Maximilian Clarke/SOPA Images/LightRocket, Andrey Borodulin/AFP, Alexander Nemenov/AFP, Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency, Chris McGrath/Getty Images, Bulent Kilic/AFP, Evgeniy Maloletka/AP/Shutterstock, Mstyslav Chernov/AP/Shutterstock