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Bombarded Mariupol is suffering through a blockade, mayor says

Mariupol, Ukraine, residents spoke March 9 about living under siege after the Russian military used intense shelling to attack the city. (Video: The Washington Post)

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A humanitarian crisis in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol deepened Thursday as the mayor likened Russia’s attack to “Armageddon” and said the Kremlin’s troops are firing on residential areas, thwarting evacuations.

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“Every 30 minutes, the city of Mariupol was visited by aviation which worked in residential areas, killing civilians: old people, women, children,” said the mayor, Vadym Boichenko, a day after a strike tore through a maternity hospital, killing at least three people and injuring 17. Video footage verified by The Washington Post shows residents circling a massive crater they say was left by an explosion. Bodies have piled up on streets.

Boichenko said in a video that humanitarian supplies were unable to enter Mariupol for a sixth day Thursday, as a Russian blockade leaves the seaside hub without much water, electricity or heat and impedes communication.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said not one person has been evacuated from Mariupol, even as escape routes open for civilians in other major cities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said just after midnight local time on Friday that nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated in the past two days, nearly 40,000 of them on Thursday.

Here’s what to know

  • More than 40 Republican U.S. senators on Thursday called for President Biden to “work with Poland and our NATO allies to expedite the transfer of aircraft and air defense systems” to Ukraine, a day after U.S. officials quashed Poland’s offer to send fighter jets with American help.
  • Vice President Harris said Thursday that the U.S. relationship with Poland and the NATO alliance remains strong and united against Russia, even after the disagreement over aircraft that the United States warned could draw the Western alliance further into war.
  • Companies continued to pull away from Russia. The Walt Disney Co. said it will pause all business there, while Burger King said it is suspending corporate support for hundreds of franchises and Google restricted its cloud services.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed a plan Thursday to nationalize foreign-owned businesses that flee the country over its invasion of Ukraine, reflecting the Kremlin’s alarm over job losses and other economic pain the exodus is inflicting.
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