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Explaining the significance of the fall of Mariupol in three maps

2

A devastated and symbolic battleground

Russian troops surrounded Mariupol early in the war, and many residents fled. An estimated 120,000 civilians, roughly a quarter of the prewar population, remain in the city. Russian attacks on a maternity hospital, a theater and an art school sheltering civilians drew international condemnation and accusations of war crimes.

The Russian military cut off food, electricity and medical supplies. Even with communication lines down, harrowing tales of hunger and desperation have emerged.


Troop movement and Russian-held

areas in Mariupol

Separatist-

controlled

area

Separatist-

controlled

area

Russian forces approached Mariupol from the east and started shelling the city.

After taking over the city of Berdyansk located almost 50 miles west, Russians attacked from the east and west, encircling the city.

An airstrike hit a theater where hundreds were taking shelter. The Russians continued shelling and advancing on the city.

Russians are poised to take

control of the city, as Ukrainians hold the Azovstal steel plant, where hundreds of civilians are gathered.

Troop movement and Russian-held areas in Mariupol

Separatist-

controlled

area

Russian forces approached Mariupol from the east and started shelling the city.

After taking over the city of Berdyansk located almost 50 miles west, Russians attacked from the east and west, encircling the city.

An airstrike hit a theater where hundreds were taking shelter. The Russians continued shelling and advancing on the city.

Russians are poised to take control of the city, as Ukrainians hold the Azovstal steel plant, where hundreds of civilians are gathered.

Troop movement and Russian-held areas in Mariupol

Troop movement and Russian-held areas in Mariupol

Separatist-

controlled

area

Separatist-

controlled

area

After taking over the city of

Berdyansk located almost 50 miles west, Russians attacked from the east and west, encircling the city.

Russian forces approached Mariupol from the east and started shelling the city.

An airstrike hit a theater where hundreds were taking shelter. The Russians continued shelling and advancing on the city.

Russians are poised to take

control of the city, as Ukrainians hold the Azovstal steel plant, where hundreds of civilians are gathered.

Three weeks into the siege, Ukrainian forces — including the controversial Azov Battalion — faltered, and Russian forces surged deeper into the city. By the start of this week, it was clear that Ukrainian fighters were making their last stand at the steel plant, where a commander told The Washington Post his soldiers were “dying underground.”

For both Ukraine and Russia, Mariupol holds symbolic significance. Ukrainian troops and forces backed by Moscow have vied for control of the city before. In 2014, after war broke out over eastern Ukraine, Russian-backed separatists took Mariupol briefly before Kyiv’s troops won it back that June.

A Russian victory would make Mariupol the first major Ukrainian city to fall since the February invasion, delivering Putin a propaganda boost. But Mariupol is also notable for how long Ukrainian forces were able to defend it, Charap said.

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