How the battle-torn city has changed after six months under Russian control — RT Russia and the former Soviet Union


These pictures were taken over six months, summer and winter, and show the recovery efforts of the pearl of the Sea of ​​Azov.

More than seven months have passed since Mariupol, the second largest city of the Donetsk People’s Republic, was liberated from Ukrainian forces, which included the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment. The city became one of the symbols of the Russian military campaign, and the victory there was the main victory so far.

Since the end of the war, residents have tried to return to a peaceful life in the modern Russian town. Photojournalist Arseniy Kotov visited twice – in the summer and winter of 2022. His photographs show its recent history and reconstruction, which is one of Moscow’s top priorities.


I visited Mariupol for the first time in the summer. We had to hitchhike to get there. The driver dropped me off at Shevchenko Boulevard, one of the city’s central streets named after the famous Ukrainian poet. The nearest building on the hill towers over the neighborhood. To get a better look, I went upstairs to the balcony of an apartment with no doors and damaged walls. From there I had a great view of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Plant, which is now world famous thanks to the battles that took place there.

I walked to the west side of the city and met a man and a woman in their thirties walking through a collapsed nine-story building. They were well-dressed, fashionable, but scavenged from the ruins. They asked me not to take pictures.

The city was full of graffiti painted after the arrival of Russian troops. Some of the posts reflect residents’ views on Kyiv authorities or other pressing issues, while others are directly related to life issues. “People live here” were often written. It is intended to protect the lives of residents from grenades thrown by the army while clearing the area.

In June, most of the streets were cleared of garbage. But burned cars still pile up in yards, and traces of ancient battles can be seen all over the city.

A few steps away from these ruins is the central square of the city. It used to be called Lenin Square, and in the center was a monument to the founder of the Soviet Union. After the revolution in Ukraine in 2014, the monument was destroyed and it was renamed “Freedom Square”. In June 2022, the original name was restored, but the monument has not yet been replaced.

The local drama theater is nearby. During the fighting in the city, the neo-Nazi regiment of Azov promised to “evacuate” the population to this theater. The building was also used as a bomb shelter. On March 16, it was full of people and was dynamited by Ukrainian nationalists. The exact number of victims is still unknown.

On the outskirts of the city, you can see the daily working life of one of the largest port cities on the Sea of ​​Azov. On April 13 of last year, the joint forces of Russia and the Donetsk People’s Republic liberated the seaport of Mariupol. All hostages were released both in the facility and on the ships. The port itself is largely undamaged and is currently used for cargo transportation.

For the past eight years, this station has housed abandoned electric trains connecting Mariupol with the regional capital, Donetsk. In 2022, vehicles were destroyed due to heavy fighting.

Last season, the city still seemed deserted, but people began to flock to the beaches. There were still landmine explosions on the beach on the left bank, but this did not stop the locals from having fun by the sea.

Tram depot No. 2 at the entrance to Mariupol was destroyed in the fighting. On March 2, 2022, the vehicles stopped working. Now the issue of reconstruction of some routes is being discussed.

Like many neighborhoods on the left bank, Victory Avenue was also badly affected by the fighting. In the summer, this part of the city is almost destroyed.

The closer you get to Azovstal, the greater the damage. This house is located a few blocks from the factory site. The buildings here are dilapidated, but can still be repaired. Blocks of houses in the north have already been demolished.

The whole part of this building was destroyed by a bomb or an aerial bombardment, and a small panel left at the top formed a kind of arch. It was dismantled in November.

This summer photo shows the damage in the Rive Gauche area near the Azovstal plant. When I returned here in the fall, most of the ruined buildings had been torn down. A new residential area will be built on the square.

In June, explosions were heard everywhere. The fighting had stopped, but the factory site, as well as many other parts of the city, were still mined. Sappers worked all over the city.

Azovstal Iron and Steel Plant is a large metallurgical plant that has been operating since 1933. Its area covers 11 square kilometers (4 square miles). The factory has 41 workshops, 80 large units and six giant blast furnaces. Heavily damaged during the siege. In the spring of 2022, Azovstal was occupied by Ukrainian armed forces, including neo-Nazis from Azov. The battle lasted from March 18 to May 17.

Similar damage is found throughout the district. According to the current city development plan, the factory will be demolished and a park will be built instead. However, the demolition process has not yet started.

During the war, the covered market of the city was badly damaged. Several shells hit the dome, and the work area was littered with shells. In the summer, people passing through the construction had to chase a large pack of stray dogs. Once fed by merchants, they now looked thin and hungry.

In the summer, most of the city is still without water, gas and electricity. Russian armed forces, volunteers and humanitarian aid organizations helped local residents who decided to stay.


In December 2022, Mariupol looked like a huge construction site. Builders from all over Russia and even other former Soviet republics are engaged in the reconstruction of the city.

Most of Shevchenko Boulevard remained unchanged. As a result, it has now become the most lively part of the city. The market here is developing. As supermarkets and all major stores have been looted and destroyed, locals are now flocking to nearby villages to buy everything from appliances to fruit and vegetables.

Most of the buildings at the end of Metalurgov Avenue were spared major damage. Some of the injured are being repaired by Russian construction workers.

Specialists evaluate all buildings in Mariupol and decide whether they can be rebuilt. If possible, the damaged area will be repaired. The remaining restrictions are being removed.

Brick buildings are easier to repair than so-called panel buildings made of concrete blocks. When a panel is damaged, it must be removed and replaced with a brick or a new panel. But in the case of brick buildings, shell holes can be quickly repaired with bricks.

Even buildings that are not completely damaged will undergo major repairs. Most of them have roofs, pipes, radiators and windows replaced. The expenses will be covered by the Russian government.

During the war, almost all administrative and residential buildings in the central district were damaged, including churches and chapels.

Most of the demolition work is done with excavators, manipulators and other construction equipment. Panel buildings are quickly demolished – it takes about a week to demolish a nine-story building.

The boiler (its pipes are visible in the foreground) was commissioned in autumn, just in time for the heating season. At the beginning of December, the builders also replaced the roofs of neighboring houses.

These Mariupol houses were among the first to be rebuilt. By December, most of the interior work was completed, the windows were replaced, and exterior renovations are nearing completion.

A chain of mobile cafes called “Mariupol is Russia and this”. [a play on the name of the Russian fast-food chain “Tasty and That’s It”] appeared on the streets of the city last fall. Haven’t tried it yet, but the cafe is popular with locals and workers.

All news on the site does not represent the views of the site, but we automatically submit this news and translate it using software technology on the site, rather than a human editor.

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