Battle of Mariupol (2022)
The Battle of Mariupol or Siege of Mariupol is a battle between the Russian Federation and Ukraine which takes place in the form of a siege from February 24 to May 20, 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in part of the Eastern Ukraine Offensive.
The city of Mariupol, located in Donetsk Oblast in Ukraine, is claimed by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). The city is the one with the most deaths since the Russian invasion.
Mariupol is, since the beginning of the Russian invasion, a strategic target because of its access to the Sea of Azov. The capture of this city would, on the one hand, allow Russia to fully control this sea, making it "a Russian internal sea" and further isolating Ukraine from the rest of the world; on the other hand, Russia could thus join Crimea (which it annexed in 2014) to the territories of Donbass (which it also controls).
A metallurgical centre, some of whose steelworks (such as Azovstal and Illich) are among the largest in Ukraine, if not all of Europe, Mariupol was also an important industrial and commercial center before the war. The port city is also a key hub for the export of Ukrainian steel, coal, grain and corn to countries around the world, some of which, such as Egypt, are highly dependent on Ukrainian resources.
In all the ports of this sea, nearly 170 ships were blocked at the start of the Russian invasion, some carrying grain cargoes, with an impact on world wheat prices. However, this trade had already been greatly weakened since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.
During the 2014 Donbass war, the Mariupolians had already had to defend their city against pro-Russian separatist forces. They had taken them in 2014, after the port city briefly fell into their hands.
When Ukraine lost control of the regional capital of Donetsk Oblast, Mariupol received the largest number of displaced people from occupied parts of Donbass. According to IFRI researcher Tatiana Kastouéva-Jean, the city “was considered pro-Russian, with many companies trading with both Ukraine and Russia. It is considerable to reserve the fate of a martyr city for a historically Russophile and Russian-speaking city.
Beginning of the bombardments of Mariupol
On February 24, Russian artillery bombarded the city.
The Russian Navy launched an amphibious assault on the Sea of Azov coast directly west of Mariupol on the evening of February 25. A US defense official said the Russians were potentially deploying thousands of troops from this beachhead. It will turn out that no amphibious operation was carried out on the spot despite certain information.
On February 26, Russian forces continued to bombard Mariupol with artillery. The Greek government announced that ten Greek civilians had been killed by Russian strikes in Mariupol, including six killed in the village of Sartana and four killed in the village of Buhas.
The ground offensive towards the city continues on February 27 and bombardments resume, while the city of Melitopol has fallen and the separatists coming from the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) are advancing. On the other side, the Russian ground forces coming from Crimea progress in Kherson.
Siege of Mariupol
The Russian forces having not achieved their initial objective of a rapid conquest of Ukraine and the overthrow of its institutions, they changed their strategy and concentrated their efforts on the siege of the main cities of the country. The capture of Mariupol then becomes one of the stakes.