Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky compared the ongoing Russian siege of Mariupol as mirroring the Nazi siege of Leningrad in a speech on March 16 as the city underwent heavy bombardment by the Russian military, reports The Guardian. This comparison may not be entirely inaccurate, as The Red Cross claims that the Russian Siege of Mariupol is veering towards a humanitarian crisis. Ukrainian reports estimate nearly 3,000 civilians have been killed. Indiscriminate bombings have rained down on civilian infrastructure as well including a maternity hospital and a children’s hospital. As ABC news reports, on March 29, 300 people, most of which likely being civilians, were killed in an airstrike on a theater in Mariupol.
The negative impacts of the siege are not confined to civilian casualties, however. The whole city finds itself the victim of the resource depletion that comes with siege warfare. BBC News reports that much of Mariupol is trapped without reliable access to food, water, and electrical power. Russia’s military has repeatedly utilized the siege plus humanitarian corridor tactic to break the will of urban resistance as they did in Syria, reports NPR. In Mariupol, Russian forces have opened up humanitarian corridors, with the Mariupol City Council claiming that thousands of Ukrainians have been deported to Russia. These are all signs that the siege tactic will work to brutalize the city through multiple means until surrender is the only option for those who still defend Mariupol.
Russian forces have not been spared from battlefield casualties in Mariupol either. More than 200 Russian soldiers have been killed in the course of the siege, and multiple high-ranking Russian officials have also been reported dead, according to The Washington Times. Statements from high-ranking officials at the Kremlin claim that the first stage of the special operation was a general success, reports CNN. The reality on the ground, however, shows heavy costs for all parties involved.
Much of the democratic world has reacted to Vladimir Putin’s abrupt invasion of Ukraine in remarkable lockstep. Statements of condemnations were backed up with punishing economic and diplomatic consequences. Bleacher Report reports that displays of unity with Ukraine have permeated nearly every segment of society from pop culture to international sports. Protests have dotted major cities across the world, reports KJRH-TV. The New York Times reports that sanctions brought Russia’s stock market and much of its economy to a screeching halt. Perhaps most important to Ukrainian self-determination, the public’s strong support for Ukraine brought an almost immediate flow of vital weapons to Ukrainian resistance, reports Politico.
Some political pundits have labeled the general reaction to Russian aggression as reactionary ignorance. However, unlike other social phenomena that faded fast from public interest, Ukraine remains relevant in public discourse. More importantly for the defense of Ukraine, the attention of powerful geopolitical actors is also focused on the Eastern European country, reports Al Jazeera. However, battles like the ongoing Russian offensive for the city of Mariupol show that the war has progressively ramped up in its brutality.