Zelenskyy said that there are still 100,000 Ukrainian civilians stranded in the city and living in “inhumane” conditions, with Russian troops continuing to fire missiles at residential buildings and hospitals.
The Ukrainian president also accused Russian troops of seizing a humanitarian convoy in Mangush, only 20km Mariupol. If true, it would mean that Russian troops are not abiding by agreements made earlier this month by Russia and Ukraine to allow humanitarian corridors through the country to ensure civilians can escape.
“As of today, there are about 100,000 people in the city. In inhumane conditions. In a total blockade. Without food, water, medication. Under constant shelling, under constant bombing,” Zelenskyy said.
The president also said that almost all Ukrainian efforts to organize humanitarian corridors for residents trapped in the city have been sabotaged by Russian troops.
“Sadly, almost all of our efforts are sabotaged by Russian occupants, by [their] shelling or deliberate terror,” he said, adding that one humanitarian convoy was seized by Russians on an arranged route close to Mangush.
He said that bus drivers were taken captive and that Ukrainian forces are doing all they can to free those in the convoy and to “unblock the movement of humanitarian cargo.”
Was Russia Lying About Humanitarian Corridors All Along?
Earlier this month, as Russia and Ukraine struggled to agree on humanitarian corridor routes, experts warned that Russia was purposely and disingenuously using discussions about humanitarian corridors as evidence that the country did not intend to wage war with civilians.
Sasha Ghosh-Simionoff, an expert on Syria, told Insider that Russian troops were purposely shelling humanitarian routes with the intention of stopping people from leaving, adding that it was straight out of the Syria playbook.
“The way in which Russia would agree to opening up humanitarian corridors with the opposition and then shell those corridors or prevent people from leaving — and the willingness to use siege warfare like they’re doing in Mariupol and other cities — is all reminiscent of what they did in Aleppo in 2016,” Ghosh said.
In Syria, she said, Russian troops would set up corridors but tell convoys that they could only leave to areas held by the regime. Earlier this month, Russia insisted that humanitarian corridors lead evacuees through Russian and Belarusian territories.
Rather than working to ensure the safety of civilians – thousands of whom have died in shellings of apartment buildings and hospitals – Russia may actually be using humanitarian corridors to gain territorial control while signaling to the international community that efforts are being made to protect innocent civilians.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.