Convoy of up to 1,000 cars leaves Mariupol, Ukraine

Survivors who finally escaped the bombed port city of Mariupol in a huge caravan of up to 1,000 cars and vans on Sunday morning have told tales of absolute horror.

Many who arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhia on Sunday said they left at night, took “secret detours” to avoid Russian checkpoints and dreaded every moment of the journey. They told of the blinding fear of life under constant fire and the hastily buried family members they left behind, and the difficult decision for many to finally flee. “We barely made it, there were a lot of elderly people among us,” 74-year-old Nikolai Pavlo, who had been hiding in his basement for weeks with scarce supplies, told Reuters. “The journey was devastating. But it was worth it.”

Another resident, 63-year-old Iryna Petrenko, waited in town until her 92-year-old mother, who was caring for her, died. “We buried her next to her house because there was no place to bury anyone,” she told Reuters.

Russia now controls much of the strategic port city, while fierce fighting continues for control of the Azovstal steel mill factory, which has trapped untold numbers of soldiers, civilians and dead for weeks.

The evacuation of Mariupol 80 days into the brutal war comes as the battlefield shifts with Ukrainian troops making great advances in the north, particularly in and around Kharkiv, which had taken the brunt of the Russian attack in the early days of the invasion. Supply lines to Russian troops trying to make gains in the eastern Donetsk region have been cut, according to CNN.

But when Russian troops withdraw from the territories they hold, they leave a trail of heinous atrocities that will surely amount to war crimes. Near Kharkiv, civilian corpses show signs of unimaginable torture as Russian casualties mount. The UK MoD estimates that Russia has lost a third of its ground forces since the invasion began on February 24, but “under current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days.”

As the battle on the ground rages on, diplomatic hot spots continue. Finland – which declared its independence from Russia in 1917 – said on Sunday it would apply to join NATO, although Russian President Vladimir Putin “will be forced to take retaliatory action” to “stop threats to its national security”. Convoy of up to 1,000 cars leaves Mariupol, Ukraine


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