Weeks of relentless Russian bombardment have left "tens of thousands of dead" in the port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday.
In a video address to the South Korean parliament, Zelensky described the ordeal of the southern city.
"[Mariupol] has been blocked by Russian troops since March 1. It was a city of half a million. Half a million people. The occupiers blocked it and did not even allow food and water to be brought there," he said, adding:
They tried to capture it in the most brutal way -- just to destroy everything in the city. Mariupol is destroyed. There are tens of thousands of dead. But even so, the Russians are not stopping the offensive. They want to make Mariupol a showcase of a ruined city.
Independent estimates of the full death toll in Mariupol are not available.
A Ukrainian military commander currently in Mariupol told CNN Wednesday night that Russian military forces are trying to wipe the besieged city “off the face of the Earth.”
“It is a humanitarian catastrophe. The military that were involved in active hostilities here are completely surrounded. There are supply problems with water, food, medication and general supply. It’s a very difficult situation,” said Serhiy Volyna, deputy commander of the Marine Battalion in Mariupol.