ATHENS — Greece’s consul general in Mariupol, the latest EU diplomat to evacuate from the beleaguered Ukrainian port, described the city’s rapid destruction by Russian forces as “a wound that will be very difficult to heal”.
“In 24 hours, all the infrastructure was lost, everything was bombed,” diplomat Manolis Androulakis said on Sunday evening upon his arrival at Athens International Airport. He called the devastation “a tragedy for both Ukrainians and Russians.”
“Mariupol will be on a list of towns that have been completely destroyed by war – I don’t need to name them: they are Guernica, Coventry, Aleppo, Grozny, Leningrad,” Androulakis said. “What I saw, I hope no one ever sees.”
Greece has a special connection to Mariupol, as the region is home to around 150,000 members of an ethnic Greek community that dates back centuries.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said last week that his country was ready to rebuild a maternity hospital in Mariupol that was destroyed by Russian bombing. Write on Twitterhe describes Mariupol as “a city dear to our hearts and a symbol of the barbarity of war”.
With hundreds of thousands of people still stranded in the city, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday he had asked Ukraine to facilitate Greek efforts to deliver more humanitarian aid to the region and called on Russia not to hinder these efforts. On Wednesday, he said he confirmed in a telephone exchange with his Ukrainian counterpart that he intended to accompany this aid mission himself.
Much of the city was left without food, electricity and water as Russian attacks caused massive destruction.
“Now, for sure, Mariupol is no more,” lamented Mr. Androulakis, the Greek diplomat. a Facebook post Tuesday.
“When I saw the buildings in Mariupol burning up and collapsing, I said they would rebuild them in the future,” he wrote. “When I saw the sunken ships in the port, I thought that they would be recovered at some point and could sail again in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.”
But he was “stricken by something else” on Monday, he added, when he saw “the destruction of the imposing and rather unseemly industrial plant in Azovstal”. Mariupol Steel Plant. “Like the port, this factory was the life of the city, a workplace for 40,000 people.”