(Moscow) The pro-Russian authorities have estimated the civilian losses in Mariupol at around 5,000 people and the housing destroyed at “60-70%” in this city which they have been besieging for weeks with the Russian army, and of which they have admitted that the takeover “would take time”.
Posted at 3:23 p.m.
Proclaimed the city’s “new mayor” only on Wednesday by pro-Russian forces in Mariupol, Konstantin Ivashchenko delivered his report to the Russian state agency TASS on Thursday, estimating the civilian losses at “about 5,000 people”, while ” approximately 60-70% of the housing stock has been destroyed or partially destroyed”.
Some 10% of the housing would be in an “irreparable state, good for demolition”, he added.
He also estimated that 250,000 people had left the city but that at least as many, possibly 300,000, remained behind. Ukraine instead estimates that 100,000 people are still in the city, where the humanitarian situation is catastrophic.
These quotes are excerpts from an interview that TASS announced was published on Friday.
Mr. Ivachtchenko also assures that in a school, the “best preserved”, some lessons could resume as early as “this month” despite the absence of electricity: “We are going to turn on the generator for a while. We also won’t be able to provide water, that is, we won’t be able to feed the children, but we will have maybe 2-3 classes a day”.
The Ukrainian authorities had put forward “cautious” estimates of 5,000 dead, while indicating that there could be “tens of thousands of civilian victims” and that the city is “90% destroyed”.
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine also admitted Thursday that they are still fighting thousands of Ukrainians in the besieged city and that taking control of it “would take time”.
The fighting is concentrated on the site of a large steel industrial zone of the Azovstal group and in the port, according to Eduard Basurin, representative of the separatist forces of Donetsk.
“How to imagine the industrial zone? It’s a city within the city, and there are several underground levels dating from the Soviet period, it’s not possible to bomb from above, you have to clean underground. It will take time, ”he explained to the Russian channel Pervyi Kanal.
The Ukrainian forces “have prepared themselves, they know the terrain better than us, it makes no sense to mention a date or a timetable” to complete the conquest of Mariupol, he added.
According to him, the Russian and separatist forces must find and block all access to the underground arteries and wait for the surrender of the Ukrainian forces.
Earlier in the day, Mr Basurin had estimated that he was fighting “3,000 or 3,500” Ukrainian forces in this area, but also an undetermined number of Mariupol residents who had taken up arms.
“So the (total) number may be much larger,” he said.
In addition, Mr. Bassourine indicated that pockets of resistance remained in the city center.
The Russian military and its separatist allies have been besieging Mariupol for weeks and face fierce Ukrainian resistance.
The humanitarian situation there is catastrophic, according to both sides, and the city is largely in ruins.
The capture of this port is strategic for Russia because it would allow it to make the connection between Crimea, annexed in 2014, and the region under separatist control and Russian territory.
Moscow has notably deployed the formidable units of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov there, without succeeding so far in taking this port city.