Before the war, Mariupol was known as a place where people could relax and enjoy their leisure time. The southern city on the Azov Sea even boasted of having the warmest bathing water in all of Ukraine. But the port, seen here in October 2018, was of particular economic interest. Many residents worked for companies that were directly or indirectly linked to activity at the harbor, exporting iron, steel, grain and machines around the world.
Today, two months after the Russian invasion began, there are almost no ships in the port. "The main infrastructure facilities, including the seaport and the waterway, have been mined and blocked with floating cranes," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin earlier this week. This photo, provided by Russian state news agency Tass, is what the port looks like today.
In this picture taken on June 20, 2019, children play in the water fountains of a park in the city center. In the background, a church can be seen.
The same church can be seen in more recent pictures, such as this one taken on April 1, 2022. It's hard to tell that this was once a place where people came to relax.
Mariupol's Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater gained tragic notoriety after coming under attack by Russia in mid-March. In this picture, taken on August 30, 2014, a young woman protests Russia's annexation of Crimea with the Ukrainian flag. Eastern Ukraine was already seeing fighting and tension at the time in the surrounding Donbas region, but the theater, still intact, was still a place of cultural exchange.
The situation is very different today, after the devastating air attack on March 16. Over 1,000 civilians, including children, had sought refuge in the building, which was being used as an air raid shelter. Hundreds are thought to have been killed.
The Azovstal iron and steelworks is one of the largest in Europe. The factory is also one of the largest employers in Mariupol, apart from the port. This photo of the industrial complex dates back to 2017.
This picture, provided by Russian state news agency Tass, was taken on April 17, 2022, and shows the plant after intense bombardment by the Russian army. The serviceman is a Chechen volunteer, fighting for Russia. Between 1,000 and 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers reportedly remain in the complex, as well as hundreds of civilians. Earlier this week, Putin had given an order not to send in troops but instead to blockade the plant, to save the lives of Russian troops. But the assault resumed Saturday after the Ukrainian soldiers refused to surrender.
This picture, which dates from the summer of 2018, gives an impression of the streets of Mariupol.
Pictures of Mariupol today show sheer destruction. The city resembles a wasteland, and agency photos show corpses in the middle of the streets. People have been burying their loved ones in their yards.
This was originally published in German