Mariupol, the captured Ukrainian city that lies on the north coast of the Sea of Azov and lies between Crimea and the Donbas region, appears to be the focus of major construction projects organized by the Kremlin.
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Video footage shared on social media appears to show huge construction projects in the city, with new residential buildings under construction.
Satellite images also appear to show a new, large military facility that has been constructed in recent months.
The satellite images emerged earlier this December from Maxar Technologies, an Earth observation specialist.
Photographs show a U-shaped facility close to the center of the city, emblazoned with a red, white, and blue star that symbolizes the Russian Armed Forces. The words “From Russian Army for Mariupol citizens” written in Russian can also be seen from the air.
The images indicate that the Russians not only believe that the captured city will remain under Russian control but could suggest that Russia is deepening its military presence in the region as part of an effort to defend the land bridge established between Crimea and occupied Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
In a Twitter post on December 2, Maxar suggested that the complex was constructed for military purposes and revealed that the satellite images had been taken on November 30 of this year.
In #Mariupol, a Russian military compound has been recently built in the north-center of the city. Notice the Russian Army slogan on the top of the roof. Satellite image from November 30, 2022. #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/GX2AwllUQM
— Maxar Technologies (@Maxar) December 2, 2022
However, some Twitter users noted that the building looks more like a typical Russian hospital than it does a military compound. Twitter users shared images of similar buildings in Russia, all U-shaped and featuring the same star design.
Another user shared a clip from Russian television that appeared to suggest the building was actually a multifunctional diagnostic center.
I saw a story on Russian TV that this is a multifunctional diagnostic center, medical equipment was shown inside: pic.twitter.com/xsoiqcMb0G
— 65?크리스마스? (@ReyWhoknowsme) December 4, 2022
It could be the case that the facility is designed to be a medical facility for soldiers, and it could also be a hospital designed for local residents.
If it is a military facility used to store weapons and ammunition, however, it wouldn’t be the first time that Russia has been dishonest about where weapons are stored in occupied Ukrainian territories.
Video Shows Newly Constructed Apartments
Videos shared on social media, including Twitter and TikTok, appear to show brand-new apartment buildings constructed in Mariupol over the last six months.
— Maimunka News (@MaimunkaNews) December 15, 2022
The bright-colored buildings, reminiscent of Soviet apartment blocks, replace old residential buildings destroyed during conflict as Russians entered the city earlier this year.
Маріуполь – Прекрасне місто перетворилось на руїни. Тисячі мирних життів забрали російські окупанти?
? Mariupol – The beautiful city turned into ruins. Thousands of peaceful lives were taken by the Russian invaders? #Mariupol #RussiaisATerroistState#RussianWarCrimes pic.twitter.com/EtucuuxdDh
— Маріуполь – це Україна ?????? (@KarnaPetra) December 11, 2022
While there is no doubt that the apartment buildings have been built, reports this month reveal how dozens of Tajik migrants employed to construct the buildings in Mariupol have been left without payment. Some workers claim that the promise of high wages and other benefits to construct the buildings have yet to materialize.
“They told us we would make about $1,900 a month and that our wages would be paid every two weeks. But I received about $700 for two weeks of work,” one migrant worker reportedly said, adding that salaries are “always delayed” and are “lower than what was promised.”
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.