Ukraine crisis: Rockets 'kill at least 30' in Mariupol
January 24, 2015
Pro-Russian rebels launched an offensive against the strategic port of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, prompting the European Union's foreign policy chief to warn of a further "grave deterioration" in EU-Russian relations. Mariupol's city administration said the rebels had killed at least 30 people and injured 83 others in the offensive by firing rockets from long-range GRAD missile systems. The city of 500,000 on the Sea of Azov is vital for eastern Ukraine's steel and grain exports and also straddles the coastal route from the Russian border to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula in southern Ukraine seized by Russia last March.
"Today an offensive was launched on Mariupol. This will be the best possible monument to all our dead," Russia's RIA news agency quoted rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko as saying at a memorial ceremony in the separatist-held city of Donetsk.
The pro-Russia rebel MLRS Grad rocket attacks hit a market, two schools, homes and shops.
LiveLeak: New dashcam video of Mariupol Grad attack
This is probably the beginning of the long awaited Russian/rebel offensive to create a land-bridge between Russia proper and the illegally annexed Crimea peninsula. Mariupol is a strategically important Ukrainian coastal city on the Sea of Azov in southern Zaporizhia Oblast.