The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

In pictures: How the Mariupol siege unfolded

A resident walks near a building heavily damaged by Russian bombardment in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 20. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
Placeholder while article actions load

Russia claimed full control Friday of the besieged Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, the final foothold of Ukrainian forces in the southeastern city of Mariupol.

The site had been the target of weeks of bombardment by Russian forces.

Much of Mariupol, which lies on the Sea of Azov near the Russian border and was home to more than 400,000 people before the war, has been left in ruins.

The capture of the city would connect mainland Russia to Crimea, the peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Here’s how Russia’s deadly siege of the city took place:

March 3 — Mariupol under siege

The mayor of Mariupol says Russian forces have blockaded the city, cutting off water, power and food.

March 9 — Maternity hospital strike

In some of the most harrowing images of the war so far, at least three people are killed and 17 others injured in a Russian strike on a maternity hospital.

Separately, Mariupol’s city council tells The Post that 43 people were buried in what it described as the city’s first mass grave in the conflict.

March 14 — Evacuations begin

A humanitarian corridor opens to allow people to escape Mariupol, but Ukrainian officials warn that many remain trapped in the city.

March 16 — Theater bombing

Hundreds of people are killed when the theater they are sheltering in is bombed, in what is believed to be the single deadliest attack on civilians since the Russian invasion began. The Russian word for “children” had been painted on the ground outside the building in large letters and a white flag tied to its roof. Local officials estimate the death toll to be around 300. An Associated Press investigation based on the accounts of survivors and rescue workers later suggests that about 600 people were killed in the theater bombing.

April 18 — Thousands trapped in steel plant

Most of the Russian assault is now focused on the city’s Azovstal Iron and Steel Works. The plant and its sprawling network of underground tunnels serve as the final shelter and stronghold for thousands of Ukrainian fighters, many of them from the controversial far-right Azov Regiment. Mariupol’s city council says as many as 1,000 civilians are also trapped.

May 7 — Women, children evacuated

Ukrainian officials say an operation to evacuate women, children and elderly people from the embattled steel plant has been completed.

The first civilians to be rescued describe the brutality of the siege as they arrive in the town of Zaporizhzhia to the northwest.

May 8 — Last fighters vow to hold out

The leaders of the final fighters remain defiant as they hold a nearly two-hour news conference from the tunnels of the steel plant.

“We will always fight, as long as we are alive, for justice,” the Azov Regiment’s deputy commander, Capt. Sviatoslav “Kalina” Palamar, says.

May 9 — Russia holds Victory Day celebrations

Russia marks Victory Day — a celebration of the Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II — in occupied Mariupol.

As Russia marks annual Victory Day, Ukrainians scarred by war reject defeat

May 16 — Wounded Ukrainians evacuated

Hundreds of wounded Ukrainian forces are evacuated by Russian forces and taken to Russian-held areas. Ukraine’s deputy defense minister says Moscow and Kyiv will negotiate a prisoner swap to ensure their release, although some Russian officials cast doubt on that idea.

May 20 — Russia claims control of steel plant

Russia claims to have taken full control of the Azovstal steel plant. The country’s Defense Ministry says that over 2,400 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered in recent days, a figure that drastically exceeds other estimates. Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War warned that Moscow could be inflating the numbers in an attempt to save face after conducting a lengthy siege of the plant.

Loading...