An assistant to the mayor of Mariupol, a port city in eastern Ukraine, claims that thousands of city residents were taken without their passports to Russia. The mayor’s office says it believes those Ukrainian citizens are now in the city of Taganrog, Russia. Russian officials said they had prepared about 200 buses to “evacuate” civilians from Mariupol.
Around 2,400 civilians have been killed and identified in Mariupol, but the death toll is probably much higher. Russian shelling has destroyed buildings and homes across the city and it is estimated about 400,000 civilians are trapped there. The siege has been happening for weeks, as Russia advances on the city. Recently a maternity ward and theater were bombed, and Ukrainian officials say a school was bombed on Sunday. The facilities all held thousands of people sheltering from gunfire, with communication and evacuation routes blocked.
Mariupol is an important city for trade on the Sea of Azov. The fall of Mariupol could connect southern and eastern Ukraine for Russia.
On Sunday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that negotiations were the only path to ending the war. “If there is just a 1% chance for us to stop this war, I think that we need to take this chance,” he said.
On Friday, Putin reportedly told German chancellor Olaf Scholz that Ukraine was “trying to drag out the negotiation process by putting forward new unrealistic proposals.”