pro-Russian authorities announce “around 5,000” civilians killed and “60% to 70%” of homes destroyed

The “new mayor” proclaimed by pro-Russian forces in Mariupol also estimated on Thursday that 250,000 people had left the city but at least as many, even 300,000, remained.

the “new mayor” proclaimed by the pro-Russian forces in marioupol announced Thursday that“around 5000 people” he had died among the civilian population of this Ukrainian city, besieged for weeks by the Russian army and its separatist allies.

“Around 60 to 70% of the housing stock has been totally or partially destroyed”He added, quoted by the Russian agency TASS, Konstantin Ivashtchenko, appointed head of the city on Wednesday by Denis Pushilin, leader of the Donetsk separatists. He also estimated that 250,000 people had left the city but that at least as many, possibly 300,000, remained behind. These quotes are excerpts from an interview that TASS announced was published on Friday.

Konstantin Ivachchenko also assures that in a school, the “best preserved”some classes could resume as soon as “this month” despite the lack of electricity:Let’s turn on the generator for a while. We will also not be able to give water, that is, we will not be able to feed the children, but maybe we will have 2-3 classes a day”. The Ukrainian authorities had submitted estimates “cautious” of 5,000 dead, while indicating that there could be “tens of thousands of civilian casualties” and the city is destroyed “90%”. Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine also admitted on Thursday that they are still fighting thousands of Ukrainians in the besieged city and taking control of it. “it would take time”.

fierce fights

The fighting is concentrated at the site of a large steel industrial area of ​​the Azovstal group and at the port, according to Eduard Basurin, a representative of the Donetsk separatist forces. “How to imagine the industrial zone? It’s a city within a city, and there are several underground levels dating back to Soviet times, you can’t bomb from above, you have to clean underground. It will take time”, he explained to the antenna of the Russian channel Pervyi Kanal. ukrainian forces “They have prepared themselves, they know the terrain better than us, it makes no sense to mention a date or a time” to complete the conquest of Mariupol, he added.

According to him, the Russian and separatist forces must find and block all access to the underground arteries and wait for the surrender of the Ukrainian forces. Earlier in the day, Edouard Bassourine had estimated that the fighting in this area “3000 or 3500” Ukrainian forces, but also an unknown number of Mariupol residents who took up arms. “So the (total) number may be much higher,” he said. In addition, Edouard Bassourine indicated that pockets of resistance remained in the center of the city.

The Russian army and its separatist allies have been besieging Mariupol for weeks and are facing fierce Ukrainian resistance. The humanitarian situation there is catastrophic, according to both sides, and the city is largely in ruins. The seizure of this port is strategic for Russia because it would allow it to make the connection between Crimea, annexed in 2014, and the region under separatist control and Russian territory. Moscow has notably deployed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s formidable units there, failing so far to take this port city.

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