(MARIUPOL, Ukraine) — The surgeons leaving the operating room don’t make eye contact. One man holds his hands. One of them looks defeated. It’s then that the father waiting at the doorway grabs his forehead, tears welling, and turns away, a wail about to escape his throat.
Serhii is identified as a man. He enters the room to find his son Iliya (16 years old) still in place and covered by a bloody sheet.
Serhii drops down, hugs Iliya’s lifeless head and convulses with grief.
Iliya died Wednesday after she fell while playing in Mariupol’s soccer field during Russian aggression of Ukraine. An explosive exploded near the Azov Sea school.
Mariupol was also rocked by shelling, which illuminated the darkened skies. On Thursday, heavy fighting continued on the city’s outskirts. As the fighting knocked out all phone lines, the city fell into darkness and there was a possibility of water and food shortages.
Without phone lines, medical personnel didn’t know how to get the injured. Other crews drove through the city looking for wounded women. One team found one and carried her down the steps to an ambulance. Her hands were shaking quickly.
Cutting off Ukraine’s access to the Black and Azov Seas would deal a crippling blow to Ukraine’s economy. Russia could also build a land route to Crimea from it, as this is what Russia seized in 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have brought their superior firepower to bear over the past few days, launching hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks on cities and other sites around the country and making significant gains in the south.
Russians claimed the capture and confirmation of Kherson’s southern city, a crucial Black Sea port for 280,000 people. Officials from Ukraine confirmed this, making it the second major city to be taken by the Russians since the invasion began just a week earlier.