The besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol appeals for help

The Ukrainian city of Mariupol has no water, heat, electricity and lacks food, its mayor said on Friday, as forces fighting a Russian onslaught warned they needed reinforcements to avoid losing control of the strategic port city.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko appealed for military aid and the creation of a humanitarian corridor to evacuate some of the city’s 400,000 residents after five days of bombardment by surrounded Russian troops. “We are just being destroyed,” he said in a televised appeal, describing the indiscriminate bombardment of residential areas and hospitals.

“They want to wipe Mariupol and the people of Mariupol off the face of the earth,” he said in a shaky video feed that trailed off. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” which it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and capture what it sees as dangerous nationalists. He denies having targeted civilians.

Ukrainian troops are holding the line against the attempted Russian advance on Mariupol, but need strong support, said a deputy commander of the Azov military unit, part of Ukraine’s National Guard. “This is the last city that prevents the creation of a land corridor from Russia to Crimea,” he said in a message on Azov’s official Telegram page, identifying himself by his call sign. Call Kalyna. “Mariupol cannot be lost.”

On Thursday, Russia and Ukraine agreed on the need for humanitarian corridors to help civilians escape the fighting, the first apparent breakthrough in the talks. But little progress seems to have been made since then in its implementation. Some residents of Mariupol fled to the city center to escape the heaviest shelling on the outskirts, said 30-year-old entrepreneur Ivan Yermolayev, who took refuge in the small basement of his house in town and stands in line for water at a local. good.

“They are with their children in the center and hear the war coming closer,” he told Reuters via online message. “There is crying, fear, uncertainty, panic.” (Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Pavel Polityuk and Alessandra Prentice, Writing by Alessandra Prentice, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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