Vladimir Putin’s grotesque war strategy

Vladimir Putin’s grotesque war strategy. By Jacquelin Magnay.

Vladimir Putin’s grotesque war strategy in Ukraine can be seen in the devastating tactics he has adopted in Mariupol, a city of half a million people on the Black Sea, the latest horror of which was a “colossal” attack on a maternity hospital.

On Wednesday Russian rockets devastated the maternity hospital in Mariupol, leaving babies and mothers, many of whom had been sheltering in the basement, buried in the rubble. Footage emerging from the city shows every window of the hospital was blown out. It is unknown how many people were killed, nor whether the Russians had used a thermobaric bomb to inflict so much damage. …

Mariupol is where Putin is deploying the eerily similar barbaric military action he carried out in Grozny, Chechnya nearly a quarter of a century ago: surround a city, mine the perimeters with butterfly mines and station sniper groups to mow down anyone trying to escape, then bomb the place repeatedly so entire districts are razed and the surviving population is utterly demoralised. …

On Tuesday a convoy of eight trucks and 30 buses laden with 90 tonnes of medicines, water and cereals headed to the city, but it was shelled upon by Russian forces.

The evacuation assembly point organised by city officials was also attacked, preventing the opening of a much needed humanitarian corridor. This week four times the escape route for locals was promised, and four times it didn’t happen. The psychological devastation on people who are cold, tired and hungry is immense.

Overhead Russia has dropped plane loads of butterfly mines – small and made of green plastic which often attracts inquisitive children. They are designed to blow off a leg or an arm, and so preoccupy defending forces to look after the injured.

butterfly mine

Diana Berkin fled the city five days ago. When she was there the situation was dire, but she knows it is much worse now. “Last week there was no communication, no mobile, a total information blackness, you only hear the shelling, it is constant, brutal and non stop,” she told Ukrainian television.

The fraternal love of Russians for Ukrainians has given way to the city-leveling tactics used in Chechnya and Syria. Geneva convention — what’s that?