Ukrainian officials say the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol is running desperately low on food and essential goods with no new expected deliveries from the occupying forces.
Alexander Motuzyanyk, spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, on Thursday presented the grim outlook for the southern port city that’s seen some of the heaviest fighting in the war with Russia. His assessment follows humanitarian agencies also reporting they’ve been unable to deliver relief to Mariupol’s civilian population.
“Our intelligence reports that in Mariupol, as well as in most of the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian invaders, almost all stocks of food, as well as essential goods, have been exhausted, and there are no new deliveries from Russia,” Motuzyanyk said at a press briefing in Kyiv, reports Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
Motuzyanyk said that there has been a big jump in prices of essential foods since the start of June and a drop in humanitarian aid, according to the news agency.
Located on the Azov Sea, Moscow has sought to seize control of Mariupol to give forces a corridor connecting Russian-occupied Crimea to Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
While Russian troops have taken control of Mariupol, it has come at a cost. Ukrainian officials have raised alarms about the spread of cholera from mass graves in the city, as the U.K. Defence Ministry warned the city’s medical services are near collapse. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko has accused Russian forces of atrocities, including getting residents to assist in hiding war crimes in exchange for water.
Amid the dire conditions, Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of disrupting humanitarian corridors.
Osnat Lubrani, United Nations humanitarian coordinator, said delivering relief to war-torn areas of Ukraine remains too dangerous.
“We could not deliver relief supplies or access Mariupol,” she said in a U.N. report. “We could not support any sort of assistance, have not even managed to have the parties to agree on safe passages to evacuate people from (Severodonetsk), so they could move in the direction of their choice.”
Severodonetsk is a city in eastern Ukraine that has become a new target in Russia’s war effort.
Matilda Bogner, the U.N.’s chief human rights monitor in Ukraine, said in the report that talks are ongoing with the Russian government to gain access to Mariupol. But she expressed concerns about Russia’s “filtration” process, which can reportedly result in detention and ill-treatment for people trying to leave.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin has presented a more upbeat picture of Mariupol.
Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in May that things are gradually getting back to normal and services are being restored, according to the Russian-state TASS news agency. The artistic director of the Donetsk Symphony Orchestra told the agency recently that Mariupol would get its own symphony.
Newsweek has reached out to the Russian government for comment.