(CTN News) – Ukrainian port city Mariupol could fall to Russian forces within days, a European official said on Tuesday, adding that it may suffer more than Bucha, where Russian forces have been accused of atrocities which the Kremlin has denied.
“At the end of the day, we certainly expect the city of Mariupol to be completely destroyed and many civilians to die,” said the European official who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Putin could declare he liberated the city of Mariupol
I think it will be worse than Bucha. And by May 9, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin could declare Mariupol liberated. So, I guess Mariupol will be controlled in the coming days,” the European official told U.S. reporters.
Thousand of people have been killed during the siege of Mariupol, and the last Ukrainian defenders at a steelworks have been given an ultimatum to surrender or die. Ukraine was invaded by Russia on February 24.
In what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, which is intended to demilitarize Ukraine and root out dangerous nationalists, Moscow denies targeting civilians. Russia’s stance is dismissed by Kyiv and the West as a pretext for an unprovoked attack.
A European official said he thought Russia’s medium-term objective was to control the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and to establish a land bridge between Crimea and the Donbas region.
This could take anywhere from four to six months, according to the official, who added that the conflict might then end in a stalemate.