Politics

Ukraine update: The crisis is still in Mariupol

Over the last few days, Ukrainian forces have accomplished some genuine wonders. Rather than simply presenting a stalwart defense, or even arranging ambushes on convoys of Russian vehicles attempting to close on Kyiv or other cities, Ukraine has, over the last 48 hours, mounted a series of genuine counterattacks. These counterattacks have seen Ukrainian forces clear suburbs around Kyiv, and push miles down the highway southeast of Mykolaiv, winning a series of stand-up fights with Russian soldiers to come within a few miles of Kherson, which has been in Russian hands for over two weeks. That push also allowed Ukrainian artillery to take up a position that turned the table on Russian troops, shelling the airport where Russia had placed helicopters, jets, and UAVs and pounding them with the ferocity Russia has been unleashing against schools, homes, and hospitals.

The cities of Mykolaiv, Luch, and Shevchenkov were once against fully under Ukrainian control on Friday. So were about 30 villages where Russian forces were pushed back or simply destroyed. 

Those accomplishments are amazing, and they help to set a narrative that Russia isn’t “regrouping” or “executing it’s plan steadily.” Russian forces aren’t some inevitable victor, and it’s not simply a matter of time before Ukraine is defeated. With military aid, humanitarian assistance, and volunteers pouring into Ukraine, Russia shouldn’t be worried about making its best deal at the bargaining table, it should be looking for an exit.

And still, there is one place where the situation isn’t just fraught, but desperate.

A day after Russia bombed the theater in Mariupol, over 100 people have been brought out alive from the rubble. But even those who have made it back to the surface are doing so in a city without light or heat, and were food and water are becoming increasingly scarce. While a few thousand people have managed to escape in the last day, Russia is still blocking entry of necessary food and medical supplies while intentionally bombing both bread lines and food stores. Mariupol isn’t a looming humanitarian crisis, it’s one that’s already underway.

It’s an example of what Russia wants to do to all of Ukraine — bomb, freeze, and starve them into submission. And if they won’t submit, into death. If the international community ever decides to stop the pretense of following the rules, while the man driving this war is ignoring them all, delivering humanitarian aid to Mariupol is a necessity that warrants any risk. Only it will very soon be too late.


Friday, Mar 18, 2022 · 8:58:07 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

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Friday, Mar 18, 2022 · 9:03:49 PM +00:00

·
Mark Sumner

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