As the death toll rises in Mariupol — the main port city in eastern Ukraine where Russia has concentrated its efforts since failing to take the capital Kiev — Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal of Ukraine accused the invading forces of committing ” terrible war crimes” in the city .
In an exclusive interview on “Face the Nation,” Shmyhal said “small children and babies” have died of dehydration in Mariupoltwo months ago. More than 100,000 people are believed to remain in the city with little access to water, food or heat. Before the war, about 430,000 people lived in the city.
“So there are terrible atrocities and terrible war crimes in the territory of Mariupol,” Shmyhal said last week at the end of his trip to Washington, where he met President Biden and top lawmakers.
Ukrainian officials estimate that more than 20,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his army to invade Ukraine in February. After the Russian forces failed to take the capital Kiev, they shifted their focus to Mariupol and other strategic cities in the east and south of the country.
On the eve of Orthodox Easter, Russia carried out new attacks in the region, including in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, where Ukrainian officials said Russian missile strikes were fatal.and at least five other people.
Shmyhal said Mariupol is like a “symbol of brave Ukrainian soldiers and civilians” who have tried to protect the city amid heavy Russian bombing. But the only part of the city that remains under Ukrainian control is awhere an estimated 1,000 civilians shelter some 2,000 Ukrainian fighters.
“We will protect our cities. And Mariupol will remain until the end,” Shmyhal said, adding that Ukrainian soldiers would fight as long as necessary.
Ukrainian presidentsaid on Saturday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin… on Sunday to meet the leaders of Ukraine. Shmyhal told “Face the Nation” that it would be a “very important political symbol” if US officials visited Ukraine so they could “see with their own eyes” what happened, what atrocities and war crimes Russia has allegedly committed.
The prime minister said he was grateful for the support the US and other Western countries have given Ukraine, but he said his country needs more weapons, ammunition and financial aid, and urged the West to impose additional sanctions. submit to Russia.
He also suggested using seized Russian assets, including yachts, to pay for the estimated $600 billion it would take to rebuild Ukraine.
“All this should be paid for by Russia. Absolutely,” said Shmyhal.