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City under siege – The New York Times


Mariupol – in southeastern Ukraine, near the Russian border – has been under siege for more than two weeks. This is the city where Russia bombed a maternity hospital last week and yesterday attack a theater which hundreds of civilians are using as shelter. According to a Ukrainian official, it is not clear how many of these shelters survived.

Since the start of the war, two of the few journalists working in Mariupol have been Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka of the Associated Press. My colleagues and I have been profoundly influenced by their dispatch, and we are moving the main body of today’s newsletter to an excerpt from it.

The bodies of the children were all lying here, dumped in this narrow trench that was hastily dug into the frozen earth of Mariupol to the constant pounding of drums.

There was an 18-month-old boy Kirill, whose shrapnel in the head proved too much for a toddler’s body. There was Iliya, 16, whose leg was blown off in an explosion during a football game in the schoolyard. There was a little girl no older than 6 years old wearing a pajamas featuring a cartoon unicorn and was one of the first Mariupol children to die from a Russian shell.

They are lined up with dozens of others in this mass grave on the outskirts of this city. A man covered with a bright blue tarp is crushed by rocks at the ruined curb. A woman is wrapped in a red and yellow bedspread, her legs tied neatly at the ankles with a piece of white cloth. Workers threw bodies in as quickly as possible, because the less time they spent outdoors, the better their own chances of survival.

“Damn all of them who started this!” Angry Volodymyr Bykovskyi, a worker pulls black body bags from a truck.

More bodies will come, from the streets, where they are everywhere, and from the hospital basements, where the bodies of adults and children are located, waiting for someone to pick them up. The youngest brother still has the umbilical cord intact.

Each relentless airstrike and shelling on Mariupol – about a minute a minute – brings about the geographical curse that has placed the city right on the path to Russian domination of Ukraine. This southern port of 430,000 people has become a symbol of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to crush a democratic Ukraine – and also a fierce resistance on the ground. The city is currently besieged by Russian soldiers, who are slowly squeezing its life out, one by one.

The surrounding roads were exploited and the port was blocked. Food is running out, and the Russians halted humanitarian efforts to bring it in. Electricity is almost nonexistent and water is scarce, with people iced to drink. People burned scrap furniture in makeshift ovens to warm their hands in the freezing cold.

Some parents have even left their children at the hospital, perhaps hoping to give them a chance to live in a place with decent electricity and water.

Death is everywhere. Local officials have counted more than 2,500 people dead in the siege, but many of the bodies cannot be counted because of the constant shelling. They have told families to leave the dead in the street because it is too dangerous to hold funerals.

Just a few weeks ago, Mariupol’s future seemed much brighter. If geography drives a city’s destiny, Mariupol is well on its way to success, with thriving iron and steel mills, a deep-water port and high global demand for both.

On February 27, that started to change, when an ambulance pulled into the city hospital carrying a motionless little girl, not yet 6, her brown hair tied back over her pale face. pale with an elastic band, and her pajamas were covered in blood. Russian artillery.

Her injured father came to her, his head bandaged. Her mother stood outside the ambulance, sobbing.

As doctors and nurses gathered around her, one injected her. Another shocked her with a defibrillator. One doctor said, “Show this to Putin,” one doctor said with utter fury. “The eyes of this child and the doctors are crying.”

They couldn’t save her. The doctors covered her tiny body with her pink striped coat and gently closed her eyes. Now she is laid to rest in the mass grave.

This tribulation consistent with Putin’s goals. Siege was a popular military tactic in the Middle Ages and was designed to crush the population through famine and violence, allowing an attacking force to save its own troops on entering. a hostile city. To replace, civilians are the ones left to die. Serhiy Orlov, the deputy mayor of Mariupol, predicts worse will soon happen. Most of the city is still trapped. “People are dying without water and food, and I think in the next few days we will be counting hundreds, thousands of deaths.”

For more: See more photos of Mariupol in the full AP story (which Lori Hinnant, based in Paris, helped write). And read a dispatch from Mykolaiv – another besieged city, on the Black Sea – by my colleague Michael Schwirtz, with photographs by Tyler Hicks.

  • As the fighting enters its fourth week, Russian forces are taking heavy casualties on the battlefield and are increasingly targeting attacks on towns and cities.

  • To the south, Russian warships in the Black Sea fired missiles at towns around Odessa, but their ground forces remained more than 80 miles away.

  • Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, asked the US Congress for more weapons and he begged President Biden “leader of peace.” (This is transcript of Zelensky’s speech.)

  • The Biden administration will give Ukraine More high-tech defensive weapons requires little training to use, part of an additional $800 million in military aid.

  • More than 7,000 Russian soldiers diedby US estimates – more than the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

  • Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine are continuing today.

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Here is a selection of literary and non-fiction books that can help you better understand Ukraine, compiled by writers and editors at The Times’s Books desk.

“Your ad may appear here” by Oksana Zabuzhko. Alexandra Alter writes: Short stories about Ukrainians facing personal and political points of decline, written by a well-known popular intellectual, “dive deep into the surreal and the supernatural.”

“Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine” edited by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky. The anthology, which revolves around the fighting in Crimea and the Donbas region, includes the work of several Ukrainian poets. “Some fought on the front lines, while others helped evacuate family members,” Alexandra wrote.

“Absolute Zero” by Artem Chekh. A memoir by a Ukrainian novelist who fought in the Donbas starting in 2015, the book “combines the perspectives of civilians and his soldiers,” writes Joumana Khatib.

“The Gates of Europe” by Serhii Plokhy. A comprehensive overview of Ukraine, written by the Director of the Harvard Institute for Ukraine Studies, goes back centuries to explore the country’s history under various empires and its fight for independence.

For more, our colleagues have put together two lists: one of mostly non-fiction books about Ukrainian history and one of contemporary novels and memoirs.



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