March 25, 2023

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Russia’s plan for the reconstruction of Mariupol, a city it “razed off the face of the earth”. The real purpose of Moscow

From the first day of the war launched by Russia in Ukraine, Russian forces tried to take control of Mariupol, then the largest city controlled by Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk region.

Moscow’s plan for the reconstruction of Mariupol, a city “wiped off the face of the earth” by Russian troops. “The real purpose is to hide the traces of war”

What Moscow surely hoped would be a quick maneuver against Ukraine ultimately led to a months-long battle as Ukrainian troops resisted in a brutal way that Russia did not anticipate.

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Throughout the spring, Russian troops killed thousands of civilians and destroyed billions of dollars worth of infrastructure, “wiping the city off the face of the earth”a local police officer said.

Now the Kremlin has declared Mariupol part of Russia, and the Russian news publication “The Village” acquired a copy of the document outlining Moscow’s vision for its reconstruction. Like Russia’s approach to the war, its reconstruction plan highlights “some” attention to the civilians who once lived there, reports Meduza.

Russian news station “The Village” obtained a copy of the Russian government’s master plan for rebuilding Mariupol, which was almost completely destroyed by Russian troops in the spring before being annexed by the Kremlin this month, along with self-proclaimed “republic” Donbas and the occupied parts of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.

The document, which outlines plans to rebuild the city by 2035, was commissioned by Russia’s Ministry of Construction and prepared by a federal organization called the Unified Institute of Territorial Planning.

The plan estimates Mariupol’s population in 2022 to be 212,000, less than half of its pre-war population of 450,000. More than 20,000 people are estimated to have died during the Russian siege of the city. Tens of thousands of other people fled the city, becoming refugees.

According to Moscow’s plan, Russian authorities expect 350,000 people to live in occupied Mariupol by 2025. By 2030, they plan for the city to regain its pre-war population, and by 2035, the Kremlin plans to have half a million people to live there.

The authors of the plan mention the following priority tasks:

– Reconstruction of private houses and apartment blocks and construction of new blocks;

– Creating jobs in sectors with high demand;

– Restoration of life support, utility, transport and social infrastructure;

– Maintaining and restoring natural areas, implementing ecological manufacturing technology, landscaping and land improvement.

The document “quickly hides the scars of war and paints a cheerful picture in a small patch of the city”

The document indicates that Russian developers plan to build or renovate 105 kindergartens, 92 schools and 19 health clinics during the same period.

The document also shows that the Russian authorities want the manufacturing industry to become the backbone of Mariupol’s economy, as it was before the Russian invasion. Metallurgy, engineering, food processing and chemicals will account for 23% of jobs, while 18% of workers are set to work in other sectors (health care, social services and “residential care activities”), and 17% of jobs are reserved for the public administration and defense sectors.

Also in this plan, a priority place is occupied by the restoration of the Azovstal and Ilici Plants. Russian authorities are also planning to build a new industrial park on the site of the Azovstal plant which they claim would provide 9,200 jobs.

In the historic center of Mariupol, according to the document, Russia will rebuild the Cathedral of the Protection of the Holy Virgin, the Azovstal cultural center, several clothing factories, the Theater Square and the Dramatic Theater, which was bombed by Russian forces on March 16, killing between 300 and 600 people. Officials from the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” they claimed to have found only 14 bodies among the ruins.

An urban planning expert who spoke for “The Village” on condition of anonymity, said that Russia’s master plan, devoid of any social component, will not be viable in the long term: “Paradoxically, restoration begins with the historic center and Azovstal. The Soviet residential districts, the densest and most damaged parts of the city, where tens of thousands of people lost their homes, are not scheduled to be rebuilt until after 2030 or 2035. Where will those who lost their homes live until then ?

This document, which was created without the involvement of the city community, cannot be called a master plan. By all appearances, the real purpose of the document is not long-term strategic development, but something very specific tactical: quickly hide the scars of war and paint a cheerful picture in a small patch of the city. Not for the townspeople, but for the viewers“.

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