Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Why is Mariupol so important to Russia and Ukraine?

Russian forces are expected to soon take over the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

This once-port city and hub for trade that housed almost half a billion people is now in ruin.

Reports indicate that more than 20,000 civilians were killed, many more were injured and thousands fled.

Russia “trucking dead bodies at Mariupol” – latest Ukraine updates


The Russian troops have been fighting Ukrainian forces there for nearly two months. However, they are heavily outnumbered in the area of their last stronghold, Azovstal steelworks.

Sky News examines why Mariupol is so crucial to both the Russian and Ukrainian governments as President Vladimir Putin prepares to blockade a plant to capture the city.


Land corridor from Crimea to Donbas

If the Russians took Mariupol they would occupy an unbroken strip of land that runs from the Crimean Peninsula (south), which they seized in 2014 to the Donbass region in the east.

They could then join forces with their troops in the north and south east.

This would also lead to the Russians controlling 80% the Black Sea coastline. This is crucial for international and Ukrainian trade.

Sky News’ Ed Arnold, research fellow at RUSI on European security, stated that Mariupol is the last place the Russians need to secure a land route all the way from Russia to Crimea.

They are probably embarrassed that they were unable to complete this feat in 56 days. They didn’t expect the resistance from the Ukrainians to be so overwhelming.

‘Rescuing’ former Russian territory

Vladimir Putin considers the whole area around the Black Sea, which includes Mariupol as part of Russia’s history.

After defeating the Ottomans, the Russian Empire claimed the territory as Novorossiya (New Russia), in the 18th Century.

Image Russian troops approach Mariupol mid-April

People in the east and south of Ukraine speak more Russian and consider themselves to be ethnically Russian.

Although Russia has not included it since 1991’s collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin hopes to create a Soviet-style “sphere of influence” there.

Arnold says that the war’s brutality has made it more difficult.

“The Russians’ campaign against this campaign has made even pro-Russian areas very anti-Russian. It is now going to be very difficult for them to control these areas.”

‘De-Nazifying Ukraine’

Putin repeatedly stated that Russia invaded Ukraine because it wanted to get rid of the government. He claims that they are “run by little Nazis”.

Although Mariupol is often dismissed by many, especially since President Volodymyr Zeleskyy is Jewish. However, Mariupol plays into the Kremlin’s anti-Nazi propaganda.

It is home to the Azov Brigade militia group, an extreme Ukrainian nationalist organization that had previously been linked to neo-Nazism.

Subscribe to the Daily Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Spotify, Spreaker, Spotify.

Arnold claims that it is a brigade but only 900 people are involved. It’s actually a small portion of the Ukrainian Army.

It was formed in 2014 during resistance to the Crimea operations. It has taken steps to distance itself from far-right connections and has merged into the larger Ukrainian National Guard.

Capturing Mariupol would mark the largest Russian military victory in the war, Mr Arnold says. It would also be a propaganda tool for the Russian Victory Day parade to Moscow on the 9th of May.

The Ukrainian economy is paralysed

Mariupol is an important port city along the Black Sea. The Azovstal Steelworks, where the last remaining Ukrainian defense forces are held up, is one the largest European steelworks.

Image Smoke rises over Azovstal steelworks

The Russian invasion of Mariupol has ruined Ukraine’s ability not only to produce iron and metal but also to export it along with its coal, grain, and other commodities to the rest the world.

“The Russians have already blocked the Black Sea. “The Ukrainian government can’t do much about it – and is taking that massive economic hit,” Arnold states.

Sean Bell, an ex-air vice-marshal, says that Russia has attempted to prevent the destruction of the steelworks and port.

Sky News reported that “quite a lot of Ukrainian commerce is done by sea”, and that the Russians would love to have control over it.

“It wants over the infrastructure it can use but the Ukrainian response to it has been so stubborn, it’s had the to resort to total bombardment of its enemies and beating them to submission.”

Image The export of steel, coal, and grain from Ukraine to the rest


Russian advances to the east

Russia abandoned the plan to take Kyiv in northern Ukraine and moved its troops south towards Mariupol, then east towards the Donbas.

Mariupol is still viable, but the Kremlin cannot send as many soldiers to the ‘next stage’ of the war, which is the battle for Donbas.

Arnold states that “if the Ukrainians continue fighting, they will prevent the Russians sending their forces north.”

“Mariupol was essentially sacrificed so that the Russians couldn’t go anywhere else.

“The defense there will be remembered as one of most important actions in the first phase war along with the battles of Hostomel Airport, Bucha and Bucha which prevented the Russians from taking Kyiv.”

Russian brutality

Mariupol has lost approximately 90% of its buildings, including schools, hospitals, and homes.

Image The rubble left outside Mariupol’s maternity hospital after it was struck by Russian strikes

Although the destruction was devastating, reports of chemical weapons being used in the city, as well as attacks on a hospital for mothers and civilian shelters, have bolstered Western support for Ukraine.

Arnold states that Mariupol “has shown the Russians who they really are”

“The events that we have seen have had an impact on how the West views the conflict and the support we have given.”

Another blow for Russian morale

The Ukrainians’ persistence in Mariupol has dealt another blow to an already low morale of Russian soldiers.

Despite being among the first to be attacked in the conflict, the city is still defended by around 1000 people and has not been officially declared a fallen city.

Arnold states that the Russians have been fighting for over two months without a break.

“While some troops are arriving completely green from other parts of the country, others have just suffered heavy losses in the northern part of the country.

“Morale is as low on the Russian side as possible, and that matters because they and the Ukrainians are gearing for quite a big battle in the Donbas.”

Image: Satellite image of the destruction to a Mariupol theater in March. Maxar

Bell added: “In Mariupol, the Ukrainians were given the choice of surrendering or dying and they chose not to surrender.”

“If you show that you are not willing to give up, you will erode the morale your enemy.”

The Ukrainians are outnumbered by both troops and firepower but their eight-year experience in the Donbas means that they “have a chance” when they move on to the next phase, Mr Arnold says.


Latest Tweets

London Globe

For risking his life for Lebanon, Omar Harfouch won the Olive Tree Peace Prize in France..… #news #


You May Also Like


The controversial Russian businessman Viktor Baturin, well-known for his years-long counterstanding with his wealthy sister Elena, widow of Moscow ex-mayor Yuri Luzhkov, is likely...

United Kingdom

Film director Ridley Scott has recalled the death of actor Oliver Reed while making the Oscar winning blockbuster Gladiator. Scott said hard-drinking Reed “just...

United Kingdom

The Watneys Party Seven is making a comeback. The ubiquitous 70s beer was a bland fizzing bitter ridiculed by many. The drink’s insipidness helped...

European Union

On April 9, 2022 Dimash Qudaibergen’s first solo concert in Germany took place in Düsseldorf. The colossal energy and the atmosphere of unity did...