Why is Russia desperate to capture Mariupol? The plan to unite Crimea with Donbass

Mariupol

The Russian-controlled Crimean peninsula will be connected to the Donbass region when the Russian army takes control of Mariupol.

Speaking to RIA Novosti, a Russian official said that taking control of the highway from Crimea to Mariupol would create a corridor connecting the occupied peninsula with Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk), which is internationally recognised as a part of Ukraine despite Moscow's recognition of the regions independence.

Russia blocking of Black Sea would be 'unjustified': NATO

The official added that the corridor and the Crimean overland bridge would be a transit area connecting the Caucasus region, ports on the northern Black Sea coast and industrial centres in Donetsk and Lugansk.

In effect, the Azov Sea will become a Russian lake.

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It is worth noting that analysts from the outset estimated that this plan was the reason why Russia is besieging and pounding Mariupol so much.

Russian forces have been bombing the city for weeks, which has been razed to the ground more than 80 percent of buildings.

According to Human Rights Watch, the residents themselves describe their city as a "hell on earth."

Ukraine has asked for help for the city and refused to hand it over to the Russians.

Local authorities say 80% of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed, some of it beyond repair.

The city has been without water, electricity and heating, and it is impossible to count the number of deaths.

This week Ukraine rejected Russia’s ultimatum to surrender Mariupol.

The fall of Mariupol would be an economic blow to Ukraine and a symbolic victory for Russia.

“Mariupol has a practical and symbolic significance for Russia,” Andrii Ianitskyi, the head of the centre for excellence in economic journalism at Kyiv School of Economics, told the Guardian.

“It is a large port city and a base for Ukrainian armed forces. So if Russians want to have a land corridor [from the Donbas] to Crimea, they need to control the city.”

READ MORE: Why do so many cities in Ukraine and Crimea have Greek sounding names?