Why is Mariupol such an important city for Russia?

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Mariupol has been one of the cities most affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This enclave has been one of the obsessions of Vladimir Putin’s regime, which sent troops from the first day the war began to gain control of the area.

The value of the city is reflected in its strategic position, since it is located in the southeast of Ukraine and can be a link between the pro-Russian areas of the donbas and the annexed Republic of Crimea. To which we must add that it has one of the most important ports in the Sea of ​​Azov. It is also a key space for its economic relevance. Products such as coal, steel or corn leave from there to be traded, especially in the Middle East.

This week the bombing in the city has intensified after Ukraine rejected the ultimatum given by Moscow to surrender. But despite the Ukrainian resistance, the Institute for War Studies warns that it will soon fall due to the “overwhelming firepower” of the Russian army, according to the Efe agency.

Mariupol, one of the first targets of Russia

Russia started the war on February 24. The Ukrainian authorities reported that day of the deployment of Russian troops in Odessa and Mariupol. In fact, the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior warned that large-scale landings had taken place in those two cities. Mariupol was one of the first areas where, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, the first civilian deaths.

The Ukrainian army continues to face Russian soldiers. Amid the clashes, it is estimated that about 100,000 civilians trying to survive hiding in the buildings that still resist the bombs. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Iryna Vereshchukhas acknowledged that the situation has “worsened” and on Monday called on the Russian authorities to open a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to Berdyansk.

Why is Mariupol important? A Russian nexus to Crimea

The city is of great importance to Putin, as it is positioned in a key place to establish a link between Russia and Crimea. If Russia takes control of Mariupol, it will be able to establish a land bridge spanning the Donbas region, where the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk are located, and the port city. This would be a direct link to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

The Putin regime also would control the coast of the Sea of ​​Azov, which is part of the Black Sea. It is one of the largest ports in the area. For this reason, Mariupol is key in Ukrainian industry and agriculture. In fact, there are important iron and steel facilities, with the largest metal plants in the country.

the devastation of the city

These strategic reasons have triggered Putin’s troops to enter the area and have exerted military pressure to occupy it. Something that has generated the devastation of the city not only by the destruction of infrastructurealso for the humanitarian drama that caused the war.

The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, denounced in early March that Russia had bombed a children’s hospital. “There are people, children under the rubble. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be complicit in ignoring this terror?” lamented the Ukrainian president. The atrocious event left shocking images, such as that of a pregnant woman who was pulled from the rubble by volunteers. Finally, her mother and baby died.

Ukraine also warned of the Russian bombardment of the mythical theater of Mariúpol, where they were refugee civilians. “The racist troops have cynically and deliberately destroyed the Drama Theater in the heart of Mariupol. The plane has dropped a bomb on a building in which hundreds of peaceful residents were hiding,” the city council denounced.

The Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmtro Kuleba, called the attack “another horrific war crime.” Russian authorities singled out the Azov battalion — a military unit of Ukrainian neo-Nazis — to disassociate themselves from Ukraine’s accusations. They claimed that this group had been responsible for this “new bloody provocation.”

However, the City Council also denounced the attack on the sports facilities in which “pregnant women and children” were found and stated that Moscow was lying when it tried to disassociate itself from the authorship of the attacks.

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