A Ukrainian woman who escaped Russia’s assault on Mariupol says troops were targeting apartment buildings ‘as if they were playing a computer game’
Rebecca Cohen – April 22, 2022
- A Ukrainian woman described her month hiding in a Mariupol basement during Russia’s assault.
- She said when she finally escaped, she witnessed Russians targeting apartment buildings.
- The journey to safety took 14 hours and she said she was strip-searched by Russian troops at each of the 16 checkpoints.
A Ukrainian woman who escaped Russia’s assault on Mariupol said that she witnessed Russian troops targeting apartment buildings “as if they were playing a computer game.”
Alina Beskrovna lived in a basement in Mariupol for a month as Russian troops destroyed her city outside. In a first-person account to UN News, she detailed how she went into hiding the morning of February 24 — the day Russia first invaded Ukraine — and stayed there until March 23.
She said people who could not get out within the first few days of the invasion were forced to stay because of active fighting in the streets.
“Those who tried to flee found themselves in a battlefield,” she said.
She described hope during the second week of the war when rumors spread on Telegram that there would be a humanitarian corridor opening up for civilians to go west to Manhush, but it turned out to be a false rumor, she said.
Mariupol, a port city on Ukraine’s southern coast, has been the scene of intense fighting for almost the entirety of Russia’s invasion.
When Beskrovna finally decided to risk her life and flee from her hiding spot beneath the city, she said she witnessed Russian attacks with her own eyes.
“I saw with my own eyes how they aimed at apartment buildings, as if they were playing a computer game,” she recalled.
Beskrovna also said that resources quickly dwindled in the basement during her stay, and with Russia targeting the city’s electrical, water, and gas systems, they lost access to those necessities early on.
She also said communication was cut off very quickly. She said she does not know if her father is alive as they lost contact weeks ago.
“I knew why it was being done: To leave us completely helpless and hopeless, demoralized, and cut off from the outside world,” she said.
On March 23, she was able to board a train to Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, which took 14 hours. She said Russian troops strip-searched her and other passengers at all 16 checkpoints.
While she felt relief when she finally heard the Ukrainian language in Zaporizhzhia, she quickly realized that city wasn’t safe either.
“Despite feeling as though I was getting out of this black hole of destruction and death, Zaporizhzhia itself wasn’t safe; there were constant air raids,” she said. “But we had made it out of Mariupol and couldn’t believe we were alive.”