Russia used a tactic of deliberate starvation during its attempts to capture the city of Mariupol in 2022, a new report submitted by Global Rights Compliance (GRC), a non-profit organization specializing in international law, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) says.

The strategy which denied food to the civilian inhabitants of Mariupol during the siege may amount to a war crime.

An estimated 22,000 people were killed during the encirclement and capture of the city of Mariupol at the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Civilians were left without water, gas and electricity for days after the siege as temperatures dropped below minus 10 degrees.

Catriona Murdoch, a partner at GRC, whose lawyers worked with the Ukrainian government, is quoted by The Guardian as saying that the aim of its study had been “to find out if there is a broader narrative,” in that the Russian military and its leadership had deliberately denied food and other essentials.

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“Vladimir Putin is to blame, [along with] echelons of the Russian military leadership,” Murdoch said without naming specific commanders.

She said that the Russians employed a four-stage tactic, starting with attacks on civilian infrastructure, the cutting of electricity, heating and water supplies, then preventing humanitarian evacuation and even attacking convoys attempting to leave the city.

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According to Murdoch, the third stage was the systematic targeting of the remaining critical infrastructure, civilians lining up to receive humanitarian aid, and water points that were established throughout the city.

In the final, fourth phase of its offensive, Russia launched strategic attacks to destroy or capture the little infrastructure that still remained.

The Kremlin’s phased assault on the city demonstrates that Russia planned to capture Mariupol without showing any mercy towards its civilian population, which was around 450,000 before the full-scale invasion began.

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According to the Guardian, the GRC dossier concludes that approximately 90 percent of the city's healthcare facilities and homes were destroyed or damaged during the siege, and food distribution points and humanitarian evacuation routes were bombed.

Starvation and the denial of amenities necessary for civilian life are considered to be war crimes, but this remains a relatively new area of international law, and no perpetrators have so far been prosecuted.

The Battle of Mariupol (also known as the Siege or Defense of Mariupol) began from the first day of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and lasted from Feb. 24 to May 20, 2022 - a defense that lasted 86 days, 82 of which were spent completely surrounded by Russian forces.

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