War is not an adventure, wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, it is an illness. Wars not only kill and maim people; they infect and disrupt entire ways of life. And so it proves in Ukraine, said Nana Poku in The Daily Telegraph.
It’s only been a month since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion, but there are already reports that at least ten hospitals have been completely destroyed along with so much other critical infrastructure. Supply chains have been disrupted, leading to widespread shortages of basic necessities. In the countryside, farmers are running out of fodder for their cattle, fertilizer for their crops, and fuel for their machines. And in villages, cities and communities, the destruction continues, forcing millions to flee their homes and creating levels of injury and trauma that could plague the country for decades.
Mariupol now “a city of ghosts”
was nowhere hit as hard as MariupolGuy Chazan said in FT. After three weeks of relentless Russian bombardment, this important port is an “ossuary, a city of ghosts”. Residents say 80% of buildings are bombed out and uninhabitable; and online there are images of smoldering ruins of apartment blocks, blackened trees and shredded cars. “Strategically located on the Sea of Azov, the gateway to the Black Sea, Mariupol has been in Russia’s crosshairs from the start.”
Within days, missile attacks had cut off water, electricity, and gas, leaving people huddled in basements, cooking on campfires made from broken furniture, and melting snow to drink. Some were so desperate that they drained the water from the radiators. Civilians evacuated from the city last week described “post-apocalyptic scenes” in which stray dogs fed on the bodies that lay uncollected on the streets.
According to the authorities, at least 2,400 civilians have died in Mariupol; the true figure may be much higher, and since many bodies were hastily buried in mass graves during brief lulls between bombardments, many of the dead may never be identified.
Cut off from the outside world
We don’t know a lot about what happened in Mariupol, because the Russians didn’t just shut off the water and electricity. They also cut off the city from the outside world by destroying its telephone, radio, and television towers. The immediate goal is to spread chaos and panic, said reporter Mstyslav Chernov AP News. “Impunity was the second goal. With no information from the city, no images of destroyed buildings and dying children, the Russian armed forces were free to do as they pleased.”
But although most journalists left early, Chernov and photographer Evgeniy Maloletka stayed behind. For three weeks, they risked their lives leaving their shelters to document the carnage and find the last places to get enough signal to upload their reports.
However, last week Ukrainian soldiers ordered them to take control of parts of the east of the port and there were fears the pair would be arrested and forced into false confessions that everything they filmed was a lie. On March 15, they joined a humanitarian convoy from Mariupol.
“Overwhelming” evidence of war crimes
Well, there is no one who can tell us about the atrocities that are taking place there, he said The timesbut the evidence of war crimes is already “overwhelming”. Last week, the Russians demolished a theater whose basement served as a bomb shelter for hundreds of women and children — despite the word “children” in Russian painted on the floor in front of it; Days later, they bombed an art school reportedly housing 400 civilians.
The Russians claim that the civilians were used as human shields, but there are signs that Mariupol will be remembered like Guernica or Dresden – as a city “where it was not just about destroying infrastructure and all resistance , but to terrorize entire populations by indiscriminately attacking civilians”.
Putin has something else up his sleeve, Sean O’Grady said The Independent. According to unconfirmed reports, thousands of Mariupol residents have been kidnapped to Russia against their will. Presumably, these people – women, children and the elderly – will be taken to camps from where they will be resettled to distant cities from which they may never return.
In the scheme of the 10 million Ukrainians displaced so far, this forced exodus is relatively small in numbers, but it casts a bleak light on Putin’s ultimate goal: “the destruction of Ukraine as a recognizable state” through large-scale transfers of population — including the execution or imprisonment of ” dissidents” – and forced social and cultural change.
This “Russification” strategy is nothing new: it’s straight out of Stalin’s playbook. Stalin’s relentless persecution of Ukrainians led to the “Holodomor” or “Famine Murder” of 1932-33. The West didn’t stop him then, and it seems they won’t stop Putin’s Holodomor now.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/956221/ukraine-war-the-atrocities-unfolding-out-of-sight Ukraine War: The Atrocities Unfolding Out of Sight