We have used this space before to help convey the colossal and tragic destruction of so much of Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol. The city was home before the war to 400,000 people; by some accounts, fewer than 100,000 remain. The mayor of Mariupol believes 20,000 people have perished during the Russian siege.
This week came the surrender of the city to Russian forces, and now for the first time in the war in Ukraine, we are seeing images of the Ukrainian soldiers in retreat and the Russians taking hold of what remains. It must be said that the photo of the Ukrainian soldiers on the bus comes courtesy of the Russian defense ministry; we do not know where the soldiers were being taken — the caption says only that they have been evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks. Elsewhere the scale of the devastation is clear; and the letter “Z” — the emblem of the Russian military’s invading force — is seen on vehicles patrolling in and around the city. Russian soldiers are described as “standing guard” — though in at least one image, one wonders what exactly the soldier is guarding. There is nothing really around him save for a battered building and a ruined car.
Perhaps it’s also worth noting, in this collection of images from Mariupol, one thing not seen: Ukrainian civilians.