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War against Ukraine: Extradited in Mariupol

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Satellite images of the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol have been circulating for days, showing the destruction caused by ongoing bombardment by Russian forces. One of Monday’s images also clearly shows the red roof of the state theater in a downtown park. In large letters on the floor in front of and behind the theater is written “дети” in Russian – children. Presumably to discourage pilots from attacking the building.

Under the neoclassical building from the end of the 19th century is the largest protective cellar in the city. It is said that hundreds of people hid there for days from the incessant attacks by the Russian army. This place seemed comparatively safe, and not just because of the bunker: the central park location should also immediately make it clear to any attacker that the theater cannot be a military installation.

War on Ukraine: A cropped satellite image showing the church and park before the attack.

A part of the satellite image showing the church and the park before the attack.

(Photo: Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

But that same building was destroyed in an airstrike on Wednesday. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba shared on Twitter Photos showing the theater before and after the bombing.. Reuters and other agencies also shared images of the destruction. In them the remains of the white facade and the park that surrounds it can be clearly appreciated. It looks like it hit the stage tower, the raised part of the building that many theaters have so they can quickly change stages. It is unclear how many people were in the building at the time of the attack. The Human Rights Watch organization supposes at least 500, the Ukrainian authorities spoke of more than 1,000.

Initial reports give hope that the bunker at least partially withstood the attack. Ukrainian MP Olga Stefanyshyna announced on Thursday that around 130 people had already been rescued from the rubble. According to media reports, other MPs also spoke of survivors, such as Dmytro Gurin to the BBC.

But hundreds are said to still be buried, and ongoing attacks are making rescue work difficult. Foreign Minister Kuleba wrote on Twitter that Russia must have known civilians had sought refuge in the building. Partially verified photos and videos online show the theater inside and out before the attack. Soldiers are not visible in any of the images.

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The Russian armed forces have been pummeling the surrounded city of Mariupol with heavy air and artillery strikes for days. AP news agency reporters in town report impacts every minute. Although the Russian military does not consider itself particularly accurate, it is unlikely that the theater was inadvertently attacked.

The helpers do not pass

The Russian military appears to be paying no attention to civilian casualties in the conflict, and residential buildings, clinics and other non-military buildings were also bombed in other Ukrainian cities. In Mariupol, there has been a lack of electricity and water for days, medicine and food are in short supply, and a waiting aid convoy is unable to penetrate the city area due to fighting. With his siege strategy, Putin’s troops will probably put up with it too.

The Russian military is also said to be taking targeted action against civilian infrastructure elsewhere in Mariupol. An airstrike reportedly targeted a swimming pool where civilians had fled to safety. People are also said to have been buried in the rubble, details are not yet known. Experts see this approach as part of the Russian war strategy: such attacks on the population are aimed at forcing the city to capitulate.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the accusations of an airstrike in the theater were a lie. Russian forces would not bomb cities.

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