The Russian Federation used deliberate starvation tactics during the capture of Mariupol in 2022

14 June 2024

The Russian Federation used deliberate starvation tactics during the capture of Mariupol in 2022. According to lawyers, the strategy of depriving city residents of food during the blockade can be equated to a war crime. As reported by Ukrinform, The Guardian reports on this.

The relevant conclusion is the basis of the dossier that is now being submitted to the ICC in The Hague by Global Rights Compliance lawyers working together with the government of Ukraine. It claims that the Russian Federation and its leaders intended to kill and harm large numbers of civilians in the city.

It has been estimated that 22,000 people were killed during the encirclement and capture of the city of Mariupol at the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Civilians were left without water, gas or electricity within days of the siege as temperatures fell below minus 10C.

“What we could see is that there were four phases to the Russian assault, starting with attacks on civilian infrastructure, cutting out the supply of electricity, heating and water. Then humanitarian evacuations were denied and even attacked, while aid was prevented from getting through,” said Global Rights Compliance Partner Catriona Murdoch.

In the third phase, according to her, the remaining critical infrastructure was targeted, civilians terrorised with aid and water points bombed.

“Finally, in phase four, Russia engaged in strategic attacks to destroy or capture any remaining infrastructure items,” she added.

The phased targeting of Mariupol, she said, demonstrated that Russia had planned to capture the frontline city without mercy for its civilian population, which was estimated at 450,000 before the full invasion began on 24 February 2022.

The dossier concludes that an estimated 90% of healthcare facilities and homes in the city were destroyed or damaged during the siege, and food distribution points were bombed, as well as humanitarian evacuation routes.

Given the importance of Mariupol and the centralisation of Russian decision-making, culpability for the deaths of thousands of civilians went to the top, it says. “Vladimir Putin is culpable,” Murdoch said, “and echelons of the Russian military leadership”, although she did not name commanders.

Photo – Mariupol City Council.