The photos were taken over the past 24 hours by Maxar. They show damaged and destroyed residential housing areas and civilian infrastructure as well as the industrial parts of the city, including the Azovstal steel plant.
Mariupol in southeast Ukraine had some of the heaviest fighting of the war so far and much of the port city lies in ruins. Russia declared victory there last week but hundreds of Ukrainian military personnel and civilians remain trapped in the vast industrial complex of the Azovstal steel works. Ukraine has not confirmed surrender.
An estimated 100,000 civilians remain in Mariupol, and up to 1,000 live beneath the sprawling Soviet-era steel plant, according to Ukrainian officials on Saturday. Ukraine has not said how many fighters are also in the plant, the only part of Mariupol not occupied by Russian forces. The Russians put the number at about 2,000.
The mayor of Mariupol said on Friday that the situation inside the steel plant, which has become the southern port city’s last stronghold, is dire and citizens are “begging to be saved.” Mayor Vadym Boichenko added, “There, it’s not a matter of days. It’s a matter of hours.”
Mariupol, home to more than 400,000 people before the war, is the biggest Ukrainian city on the Sea of Azov. It is the main port serving industries and agriculture in eastern Ukraine. It is also the site of some of Ukraine’s biggest metals plants.
It was the largest city still held by Ukrainian authorities in the two eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, known collectively as the Donbas, where pro-Russia separatists have spent years fighting for control. Putin recognized those provinces as independent just days before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Capturing Mariupol would give Russia full control of the Sea of Azov coast, as well as a secure overland bridge linking mainland Russia and pro-Russian separatist territory with the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow seized and annexed in 2014.
That land-bridge would unite Russian forces on two of the main axis of the invasion, and free them up to join a new offensive against the main Ukrainian force in the east.
— With files from The Associated Press, Reuters and Global News’s Sean Boynton