"The important southeast city of Mariupol has now been completely taken over by Russian forces, according to its mayor, after weeks of siege and intense bombardment and fighting," Zero Hedge reported earlier this week in an update on the situation in a region deemed highly important to the Russian high command.
Mayor Vadym Boichenko announced Monday that his city is "in the hands of the occupiers."
"Not everything is in our power," he said in a live television interview. "Unfortunately, we are in the hands of the occupiers today."
Boichenko then called for the city of what was around 400,000 to be completely evacuated, though less than half that number have remained, some estimates indicate.
"According to our estimates, about 160,000 people are in the besieged city of Mariupol today, where it is impossible to live because there is no water, no electricity, no heat, no connection," Boichenko continued. "And it's really scary."
Russian forces have besieged the city for weeks now after invading on Feb. 24. It has been reported that the city is a vital objective in the Russian military's overall plan since it is a major port.
Last week, Russian troops finally reached the center of the city, where street-to-street fighting had taken place for days. It wasn't clear on Monday whether fighting was continuing.
In the past, Russian forces have established short-lived humanitarian corridors for the city's civilians to use in evacuation efforts, but now the Mariupol mayor is urging a major new operation.
"The situation in the city remains difficult. People are beyond the line of humanitarian catastrophe," Boichenko said, according to Reuters. "We need to completely evacuate Mariupol."
"The Russian Federation is playing with us. We are in the hands of the invaders," he explained.
Reuters, meanwhile, adds:
He said 26 buses were waiting to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, which normally has a population of about 400,000 people, but Russian forces had not agreed to give them safe passage. He did not say where they were waiting.
The mayor went on to say that the city's bus drivers who are involved in leading evacuations are coming under fire from Russian forces.
"Our heroic drivers under the fire are trying to reach the places where Mariupol residents can be picked up, and they are waiting with the hope that they will have such an opportunity," he said.
Following weeks of heavy artillery and missile fire, up to 90 percent of all buildings in the city, including civilian residences, have either been destroyed or damaged, according to Ukrainian government sources.
"Russian Marines & DPR troops entering an Azov base in Mariupol. Abandoned but probably full of traps & mines, says war reporter Andrey Filatov, clearing it will be complicated. Tanks are useful here," one on-the-ground war report noted that was posted to Twitter.
Russian Marines & DPR troops entering an Azov base in Mariupol. Abandoned but probably full of traps & mines, says war reporter Andrey Filatov, clearing it will be complicated. Tanks are useful here pic.twitter.com/hvbqjauRxb
— Russians With Attitude (@RWApodcast) March 28, 2022
Given Russia's advance into the port city, it is clear that Moscow has not 'lost' the war in Ukraine, though Ukrainian fighters have made gains, too.
Also on Monday, reports noted that Ukrainian troops had retaken the important Kyiv suburb of Irpin. A CNN report cited the mayor of that 'burb, Oleksandr Markushyn, who said: Irpin was freed last night. Now we need to clear the town totally. There are wounded Russian soldiers. They are offering to surrender or they will be destroyed. Irpin is a staging area for an attack. We will [next] liberate Bucha, Vorzel and Hostomel."
Markushyn then announced on Telegram: "We have good news today – Irpin has been liberated," though Reuters noted that there had yet to be independent confirmation of the claim.