© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A service member of pro-Russian troops walks near an apartment building destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 28, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
By Max Hunder
(Reuters) – Ukraine’s southern port of Mariupol has been under fire since early in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a siege has trapped tens of thousands of people there with dwindling supplies.
Here is a timeline of main events there.
Feb. 24 – Russia launches a full-scale invasion of Ukraine from three fronts and begins to advance towards Mariupol from parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia-backed separatists, and from annexed Crimea in the south. Local authorities say 26 people are admitted to hospital after parts of the city are shelled.
March 1 – Mayor Vadym Boichenko says the city has been under shelling for five days. The next day, Boichenko says Mariupol has been hit non-stop for 14 hours.
March 2 – Mariupol says it has lost power, and has no running water or gas supplies. Boichenko says Russian forces are blocking the exit of civilians and local authorities later pinpoint this day as the start of Russia’s blockade. Russia reiterates that it does not target civilians.
March 5 – Russia and Ukraine agree a partial ceasefire to open a humanitarian corridor for several hours. The ceasefire collapses, with both sides blaming each other, and a safe corridor is not established for another week.
March 9 – City authorities say a Russian airstrike has hit a maternity hospital. They say three people are killed and later report the death of another pregnant woman. Russia says, without producing evidence, that the hospital had no patients. Ukraine says Russia’s assertion is a lie.
March 13 – The city council says the last supplies of food and water are running out.
March 14 – A humanitarian corridor is agreed with Russia and a convoy of evacuees, in at least 160 private cars, manages to leave Mariupol. By mid-afternoon on March 15, 2,000 cars have left.
March 16 – Local authorities say Russian bombs hit Mariupol’s Drama Theatre while hundreds were sheltering there. The mayor’s office estimates on March 25 that the death toll was about 300. Russia denies bombing the theatre.
March 18 – Russia says its forces have entered the centre of Mariupol. Boichenko says fighting in the city is “really active.”
March 19 – Ukraine accuses Russia of illegally deporting thousands of Mariupol residents to Russia under the guise of evacuation after Russian media reported that “evacuation buses” were carrying hundreds of civilians from Mariupol to Russia. On March 24, Mariupol authorities update the figure to 15,000.
March 21 – Moscow sets an ultimatum for Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to lay down their arms, saying they will be given safe passage out of the city. Ukraine rejects the proposal, saying there can be no question of surrender.
March 28 – The office of Boichenko, who has left the city, estimates that nearly 5,000 people have been killed in Mariupol since the start of the siege. It also estimates that 90% of the buildings have been damaged and 40% destroyed. About 290,000 people have left the city and about 170,000 are still trapped, it says.
March 29 – Britain’s Ministry of Defence assesses Mariupol’s city centre to still be under Ukrainian control. Russia says at talks in Turkey that it will scale down military operations around the capital Kyiv and Chernihiv in northern Ukraine but makes no mention of Mariupol.
March 30 – A Ukrainian presidential adviser says street fighting is heavy in Mariupol and half the city is in the hands of Russian forces.
Russia’s siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol