Mariupol Explosions Have Mayor 'Smiling and Waiting for Good News'

At least seven explosions rang out through Russian-occupied Mariupol during an air raid on Tuesday night, according to an adviser to the exiled mayor's office, which left Ukrainian officials "smiling and waiting for good news."

Petro Andryushchenko wrote on his Telegram channel that Russia claimed its anti-aircraft defense system in the region had worked and shot down all drones attacking the Mariupol area.

"Loud sounds of cannonade throughout the city. At least seven loud explosions. Left Bank. An open approach between the village of Vynogradne and the village of Pionerske," the adviser wrote.

"They report on the active work of the occupiers' anti-aircraft defense. Unofficial propaganda outlets, of course, report the standard 'UAV attack' and 'all targets down.' Wishful thinking. We are smiling and waiting for good news."

Mariupol Strikes
A picture taken on December 19, 2022 shows the Russian-controlled Azov Sea port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine. More explosions were heard in Mariupol late on January 31, 2023. Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

Mariupol was one of the first big hotspots of the war after Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2022. About 11 weeks later, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said the death toll among its civilians had already doubled the amount caused by German Nazis over a two-year stretch during World War II. Boychenko called it "one of the worst genocides of civilians in modern history."

"In two years, the Nazis killed 10,000 civilians in Mariupol. And the Russian occupiers in two months - more than 20 thousand Mariupol. More than 40,000 people were forcibly deported," Boychenko wrote at the time on his own Telegram channel.

"This is one of the worst genocides of civilians in modern history. The Russian army is purposefully and ruthlessly destroying our city and its inhabitants."

"Racism is the fascism of the 21st century," Boychenko added. "No doubts or illusions. Mankind has paid a high price for the victory over fascism in the last century. If we do not unite today and do not stop this evil, the price this time may be much higher."

Among those killed in the strategic seaport on the Azov Sea were more than 1,200 residents who were huddled inside a theater with the words "children" painted on each side of the building.

But, despite the carnage, Boychenko and his team remain hopeful that the city will be liberated and have vowed to rebuild as soon as it is. Last week, he told The Times of London he estimated 70 percent of the prewar residents would return.

"Half of the city is now ashes with 1,300 out of 2,600 buildings destroyed," he said, estimating the cost of the damage at $14.5 billion.

"[So] we have developed a strategic program for the city's revival, Mariupol Reborn. We have engaged our friends in America, architects and urban planners, to envisage the renaissance of Mariupol.

"We want to offer the top healthcare and transportation, implement a green transition and capitalize on Mariupol's biggest tourism asset, the Azov Sea shores."

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Updated 02/01/2023, 7:45 a.m. E.T.: This story was updated for clarity and with further quotes from Boychenko.