MARIUPOL — A Ukrainian police officer in Mariupol has warned that the besieged port city has been “wiped off the face of the earth” and pleaded with the presidents of the United States and France to provide his country with a modern air defense system.
In a video post from a rubble-strewn street, Mariupol police officer Michail Vershnin told President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron that they had promised assistance “but what we have received is not quite it,” and urged them to save the civilian population.
“Children, elderly people are dying. The city is destroyed and it has been wiped off the face of the earth,” he said speaking in Russian in the video filmed Friday that was authenticated by The Associated Press.
In it, flames can be seen coming from several buildings while others were decimated in the city on the Sea of Azov that before the Russian invasion had 440,000 people. Apparent explosions could also be heard.
“You have promised that there will be help, give us that help. Biden, Macron, you are great leaders. Be them to the end,” he said.
Vershnin said the city is facing the fate of the Syrian city of Aleppo that was destroyed in 2016 in a Russian-backed siege during Syria’s revolution-turned-civil war. Russia helped Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government with a ruthless strategy by locking sieges around opposition-held areas, bombarding and starving them until the population’s ability to hold out collapsed.
Years ago, Mariupol also endured fierce fighting against Russia-backed separatists after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, but managed to beat back repeated assaults.