Mariupol map: Why is Mariupol so important to Putin and Russia?

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Russia has now been bombarding the south eastern city of Mariupol for four weeks. Ukrainian authorities have said that 90 percent of the city is destroyed, with swathes of its infrastructure now beyond repair.

It is estimated that 100,000 people are still trapped within Mariupol, according to President Zelensky.

Additionally, there have been reports that Russia is kidnapping remaining Ukrainian citizens and sending them to Russian camps.

Deputy mayor Sergeii Orlov said on Tuesday: “Russia has unleashed severe bombardment on the city dropping up to 100 bombs a day.

“Ninety percent of its infrastructure is ruined, the city is being destroyed just as in Hiroshima, but not in one go – it’s slow and excruciating.

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“Mariupol is the city of heroes but it is also the city of death and tears, and every centimetre of our land is soaked with the tears and blood of the heroes of our cities.”

Now, the situation has intensified further, with Russian defence ministry warned remaining inhabitants, who had earlier rejected a deadline to surrender, that they faced being brought before a “military tribunal”.

But Ukraine remains steadfast, with Iryna Vereshchuk, a Ukrainian deputy prime minister, saying: “There can be no question of any surrender.”

Russia has attacked Mariupol heavier than any other city in Ukraine – but why does Russia want Mariupol so badly?

Why is Mariupol so important to Russia?

The south eastern port city of Mariupol would be a strategic advantage for Russia.

It is part of the Pryazovia region of Ukraine, and is the 10th largest city in the nation.

Prior to the invasion, Mariupol had a population of around 430,000.

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The city is a land corridor between the previously annexed Crimea, and the controlled separatist territories in the Donbas, which is only 30km away.

General Sir Richard Barrons, former commander of UK Joint Forces Command, said: “When the Russians feel they have successfully concluded that battle, they will have completed a land bridge from Russia to Crimea and they will see this as a major strategic success.”

Mariupol is also a port city, meaning it would give Russia a significant advantage by using it as a base to ship in troops and equipment on the Sea of Azov.

The loss of Mariupol would also have a huge impact on Ukraine’s economy.

Sectors like steel, coal and corn are all mass industries in Mariupol.

In the face of failures elsewhere in Ukraine, Russia now seems to be focusing its efforts on the Russian-speaking areas in the south and east, hoping to extend the zone of direct control beyond Donbas.

Although attacks have continued around Kyiv, a renewed aim for Russia seems to be to draw up artillery closer to the capital to prepare a general bombardment in the future.

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