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Smoke rises after an apparent shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine on Friday, March 4. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, painted a grim picture of life in the city.

“The situation is very complicated,” Boichenko said in an interview on a YouTube channel on Saturday. “The Russian army has already set up a blockade on the humanitarian corridor. We have a lot of social problems, which all Russians have created.”

Boichenko said the city, which has nearly 400,000 residents, has been without power for five days. “All of our thermal substations depend on this power supply, so as a result we are heatless,” he said.

Boichenko said there were no mobile networks, and “since the Mariupol attack, we lost our reserve water supply, and so we are totally without water now.”

“[The Russian army] is working to besiege the city and set up a blockade,” he said. “They want to cut us off from the humanitarian corridor, interrupting the delivery of essential goods, medical supplies, even baby food. Their goal is to suffocate the city and place it under unbearable stress.”

Boichenko said that “the injured and dead over the past five days number in the tens. On the eighth day there were hundreds. Now we are already talking about thousands.

“These numbers will only get worse,” Boichenko said. “But this is the sixth day in a row of airstrikes and we are unable to go out to collect the dead.

“They say they want to prevent Ukrainians from being killed by Ukrainians [state] but they are the ones who kill,” Boichenko said. “Listen, our brave doctors have been saving lives here for 10 days straight. They live and sleep in our hospitals with their families.”

Boichenko spoke about the humanitarian corridor, which was canceled on Saturday.

“We had 50 buses full of fuel, and we were just waiting for a ceasefire and the opening of the roads so we could get people out of here,” he said. “But now we only have 30 buses left. We hid those buses in another place, away from the shelling, and lost another 10 there. So we are down to 20.

“So when this humanitarian corridor finally opens to us tomorrow or whenever, we may not have any more buses to evacuate people.”

Boichenko said saving the city was out of the question. “The only task now is to open the humanitarian corridor to Mariupol at all costs.

“All these talks are lies,” he said. “All of this is done, I repeat for the thousandth time, to destroy us as a nation.”

Boichenko insisted that morale in Mariupol was strong but they were “just hanging on”.

“We hold out hope that maybe tomorrow at dawn, maybe a little dewdrop of love will splash on the people of this town,” he said.

“The city of Mariupol ceased to exist,” Boichenko told the YouTube interviewer, “at least the city you saw once.”


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