Drone footage shows devastation of Mariupol after relentless Russian bombardment

Drone footage of Mariupol released by the Ukrainian National Guard shows the extent of the devastation in the port city which has been under heavy bombardment since the Russians invaded a month ago.

The footage mirrors Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy's comments on Tuesday that the city had been utterly destroyed in the Russian onslaught.

The aerial footage, released on Wednesday, shows a city in ruins, with smoke drifting across badly damaged apartment blocks that rise from the scorched grass.

Perched on the Sea of Azov, Mariupol is a crucial port for Ukraine and lies along a stretch of territory between Russia and Crimea. The siege has cut the city off from the sea and allowed Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea.

Last week Russian forces bombed a theatre in the besieged city, where civilians and children took shelter.

Thousands have managed to flee Mariupol, where the bombardment has cut off electricity, water and food supplies and severed communication with the outside world.

The Ukrainian National Guard's Special Forces Unit "Azov", which released the footage, is a paramilitary police force fighting alongside the National Army. It has its roots in the Azov Battalion, formed in 2014 by far-right activists led by Andriy Biletsky at the start of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.