Russia deliberately besieged Mariupol in 2022 with particular brutality
Publication date

Russia deliberately besieged Mariupol in 2022 with particular brutality

Source:  The Guardian

Russia used deliberate starvation tactics during the siege and capture of Mariupol in 2022.

Points of attention


  • The siege on Mariupol had four phases: from the shelling of the infrastructure to the destruction of the drama theatre.
  • According to the data, during the siege of Mariupol, about 22 thousand people died, and the drama theatre was destroyed, leading to mass casualties.
  • Russia's actions in Mariupol are considered war crimes, but no suspects have been brought to justice.
  • The international human rights organization Amnesty International has confirmed that the Russian troops attacked the drama theatre in Mariupol without complying with the rules of international humanitarian law.

The Russian siege on Mariupol had four phases

As noted, The Guardian analyses the report of Global Rights Compliance lawyers, which they submitted to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Lawyers estimated that during the siege of Mariupol at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, about 22,000 people died. A few days into the siege, civilians were left without water, gas and electricity, and temperatures dropped below -10C.

Global Rights Compliance Partner Catriona Murdoch said the Russian attack had four phases, starting with attacks on civilian infrastructure and cutting off electricity, heating and water supplies. Then, there was the refusal to evacuate and attacks on humanitarian missions that tried to deliver aid.

According to her, the phased shelling of Mariupol demonstrated that Russia planned to capture the city without mercy for civilians, whose number was estimated to be 450,000 people by February 24, 2022.

The findings also state that approximately 90% of health facilities and homes in the city were destroyed or damaged during the siege and that food distribution points and humanitarian evacuation routes were bombed.

Starvation and the denial of basic amenities to civilians are considered war crimes, but this is a relatively new area of international law. So far, no suspect has been held criminally responsible for this, the authors of the article claim.

Russia killed hundreds of Ukrainians, destroying drama theatre in Mariupol

On March 16, 2022, the Russian army purposefully dropped two glide bombs on the Drama Theater in the centre of Mariupol. Then, the building became a shelter for residents from enemy attacks; near it was the inscription "Children".

According to the Donetsk region prosecutor's office, about 600 people were killed, and at least 400 people were injured as a result of the shelling. It is impossible to establish the exact number — the city is under occupation.

According to the Mariupol City Council, about 300 people died in the theater as a result of the bombing. According to other data, from 600 to 1,200 civilians could have died in the theater and nearby buildings.

The Russian Federation rejects accusations of committing this war crime, despite the conclusions of international organisations, and claims that the theatre was mined, and the Ukrainian side mined the theatre from the inside.

The international human rights organization Amnesty International reported in June of last year that the attack on the drama theatre in Mariupol on March 16 was carried out by the Russian military, presumably by dropping two 500-kilogram bombs from a fighter jet, which detonated simultaneously.

On December 23, it became known that the Russian occupiers completely dismantled the ruins of the theatre building.

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