Ukraine, passage from hell: a thousand leave Mariupol

Of Andrea Nicastro

A humanitarian corridor opens from the city on the Black Sea. In the Donbass, Moscow accuses the Ukrainians for a massacre but Kiev denies having launched the raid and blaming the Russians

FROM OUR DNIPRO REPORT At one o’clock yesterday a passage was opened to get out of the hell of Mariupol. The Russians ensured that there would be no mines or assaults along the way. Those who still had petrol in the tank, those who had managed to defend it from thieves and a car, were able to leave. With my heart in my throat. Knowing that for ten days the Russians had opened and then closed what is called the green corridor here. No respite, the cars left that the bombs still fell on the city-port of the Sea of ​​Azov. Artillery against the houses, against the areas that still respond to fire. On the way indicated by the Russians, for no. Late in the evening, sixty cars had arrived in Zaporizhya, 250 kilometers to the north, in territory controlled by the Ukrainian forces. The others had perhaps stopped without petrol, had gotten lost or who knows what else.

The green thread

Less than a thousand people have thus been able to leave the besieged city.

The humanitarian corridor for Mariupol was one of the most pressing demands of the Ukrainian delegation at the negotiating table. Perhaps the long-awaited okay arrived after that hour and a half of talks between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin. But this was only half a concession anyway. A load of humanitarian aid that tried to cross the green thread towards the city was stopped by Moscow. The medieval siege continues. With the testimonies of the fugitives, with the horror stories that will emerge as the hours pass, the encirclement of Mariupol will become even more central in this war. Ukrainians shout for help for inhumanity, the Russians to press on the population to break the resistance to the invasion.

The days of the siege

If a thousand people are hopefully safe, another 200-300 thousand are still there. It looks like a new Raft of the Medusa. After 13 days adrift, of the 150 sailors on board, 15 survived. Mariupol isolated from the world just one day less, 12. The lifeboats of the luckiest are the cars that slipped between the checkpoints yesterday and, in dribs and drabs, in the very first days of the encirclement. The bulk of the inhabitants waited for the buses and instead remained adrift on a city-raft where the dead would already be over 2,500. Mariupol must become an example, make it clear that Moscow will reach the end. The tales of the fugitives will explain to the world what the Russian army is willing to do. For Putin, international reputation is not a brake, for Ukraine it must be a warning.

The people of Mariupol holed up in cellars to protect themselves from the bombs that fall at all hours, in every area of ​​the city. The water in the pipes of the buildings is over. Without electricity, there is no way to get it into the top tanks. So even the bathrooms of the apartments that in the early days were used in the breaks of the bombings have become off limit. We go to the gardens. The wisest ones dug holes in the ground and put planks around them. Furniture is broken and trees are cut to light fires. They are used for heating and cooking. Mariupol turned primitive, with cellars instead of caves.

The southern front

The whole Black Sea coast under pressure. Both where the fighting is over and no one is shooting Russian jeeps, and where guns and tanks are still talking.

In Mikolaiv, the last Ukrainian bastion before Odessa, there is now fighting near the naval arsenal. Bombs also fall on civilian neighborhoods. There are dozens of deaths among Ukrainian soldiers. In Kherson, under Russian control, the population never stops taking to the streets. Incredible scenes of civilian courage and, it must be said, of composed reaction from Russian troops arrive via social media. Ukrainian women insulting Moscow soldiers on patrol. Go to your home, to your families, to your mothers and children, here you are enemies. Our land. You have come to kill women and children… haven’t you killed too much already ?. Even more threatening male voices and curses are heard: Choose to live, not die. Why die in Ukraine ?. Russian soldiers do not react for very long minutes with civilians becoming more and more brazen. It is not clear if any of them try to persuade the crowd to disperse. Then, after this rain of insults, the Russians shoot in the air. Bursts of machine guns, but only in the air. Fortunately.

In the Donbass

In Donbass, just above Mariupol, Moscow denounces the Ukrainian aggression against the pro-Russian independence republic of Donetsk, one of the reasons stated by the Kremlin to justify its special operation. An aerial bomb or cluster-head missile made a killing. The pro-Russian authorities in Donetsk speak of 20 dead.

Ukraine denies having launched the raid and instead speak of a Russian missile. No doubt Russian, it doesn’t even make sense to talk about it, a military spokesman said on TV. Without neutral observers on the ground with the ability to move independently, it is impossible to verify. The massacre, on the other hand, that went on all the Russian news programs to confirm the version of Moscow, that the invasion of an entire country arises from the conflict in one of its rebel corners.

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