'Putin wants to destroy Ukraine:' Mariupol deputy mayor says it is Russia's aim to target civilians

ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports on the continued attacks on Ukrainians towns and cities which have left the residents who dared to stay constantly fearful for their lives

The deputy mayor of Mariupol, a key south-eastern Ukrainian city, has told ITV News Russian president Vladimir Putin is determined to "destroy" Ukraine and his forces are targeting schools, hospitals and kindergartens.

Sergei Orlov said the city had faced 40-hours of continuous bombing from Russian forces and was now surrounded.

He said it was Putin's aim to "destroy Ukraine as a country and Ukrainians" and claimed civilians, including children were being deliberately targeted.

"The city is blocked" - Sergei Orlov says the city is under siege from three directions

He said Ukrainian forces held the city itself, but Russians controlled the territory surrounding it and while the military situation remains "stable," the city is facing a humanitarian crisis.

Residents have been trapped inside the city without electricity and water for three days.

"The city is surrounded by Russian troops from three directions," he said. "The city is blocked and there is no transport out of the city."

He added: "Our army is very brave, but very tired."

Thousands of people continue to flee Ukraine Credit: Visar Kryeziu/AP

"Putin and the Russian army have totally destroyed all infrastructure, the city has been without electricity, water and sanitary systems for three days."

Mr Orlov, who is currently not in Mariupol, said that cutting the city off had been Putin's aim.

"We should understand that Putin and the Russian army destroys the city. At the moment, each day, each hour, each minute, each second. They use all the weapons they have - they use bombs, they use rockets... everything they have.

"He (Putin) does not see any difference, and his target is hospitals, schools, kindergartens, civil buildings."

Mr Orlov compared the devastating attacks on Mariupol to those on the Syrian city of Aleppo where the Russian-Syrian coalition was accused of committing war crimes during month-long indiscriminate airstrikes in 2016.

"Putin and Russian army have totally destroyed the infrastructure" - Sergei Orlov says Moscow is deliberately targeting civilians

The deputy mayor said Putin knew that "there's no way to defeat the Ukrainian army on Ukrainian land" and was using air attacks to "destroy Ukraine".Hundreds of Mariupol civilians were killed by "relentless" shelling, the city's mayor said on Wednesday.

Graphic images from inside a hospital in the city showed residents badly injured by shelling as Russian forces attempt to cut the country off from its coastline.

What did the Ukrainian president say in his latest public address? James Mates explains

"We are being destroyed as a nation," Vadym Boychenko said. "This is the genocide of the Ukrainian people. These hypocrites came to ‘save’ Russian-speaking citizens of Mariupol and the region, but they arranged the extermination of Ukrainians - Mariupol residents of Russian, Ukrainian, Greek and other origins."

Among those killed was a 16-year-old boy who had been playing football.

Mr Orlov called for the West to do more to help Ukraine resist the Russians, saying sanctions "were not enough".

"You should understand it will take three to six months to destroy the Russian economy. We don't have three to six months - we have several days or several weeks."

"We fight for Ukraine as a free country, for freedom and European civilisation. Putin fights for his crazy mind," Mr Orlov said.

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