Ukrainian officials have accused the same high-ranking Russian military leader of many of the war’s worst atrocities, including the deadly airstrike at a maternity hospital – dubbing him “the Butcher of Mariupol.”
“Remember him. This is Mikhail Mizintsev, ” tweeted the head of Ukraine’s Center for Civil LibertiesOleksandra Matviichuk, while posting a photo of the colonel-general who heads Russia’s National Defense Control Center.
“He is leading the siege of Mariupol,” she said of the city that has been nearly wiped out by almost constant airstrikes.
“It was he who ordered the bombing of a children’s hospital, the drama theater, etc.,” she insisted of two of the worst attacks, both widely condemned as war crimes.
In the first, a maternity hospital was blown up, killing children and pregnant women, including one who was seen being stretchered away in agony. In the second, airstrikes destroyed a theater that local officials said was a shelter for more than 1,000 civilians, mostly the young and the old – with “CHILDREN” clearly marked outside in Russian.
Rescue operations have been thwarted by almost constant airstrikes – including on those trying to leave via so-called humanitarian corridors that Mizintsev had personally promised.
Instead, the once-beautiful city of 430,000 has been pulverized into a “freezing hellscape riddled with dead bodies and destroyed buildings,” according to Human Rights Watch.
Mizintsev “has a huge experience of destroying cities in Syria,” Matviichuk said, while vowing to “take care” of him in a war crimes trial in The Hague.
A Ukrainian military spokesman, Sergey Bratchuk, also insisted that the ongoing assault on Mariupol was “personally controlled” by Mizintsev.
“This is [who] ordered to bomb the maternity hospital, children’s hospital, drama theater, civilians’ homes. This is him destroying Mariupol, as he used to destroy Syrian cities, ”Bratchuk wrote on Facebook.
Former Ukrainian diplomat Olexander Scherba also identified Mizintsev – calling him “the butcher of Mariupol.”
Scherba, Ukraine’s former ambassador to Austria, shared an intercepted audio clip that he caught allegedly of the so-called “butcher” calling a junior officer “scum” for not wearing his uniform.
“Why isn’t his face not messed up yet? Why aren’t his ears cut off? Why wasn’t he beat with a bottle at night? Huh, comrade Scum? ” the ex-diplomat wrote of the alleged caught-on-tape exchange.
The Kremlin has not discussed who ordered individual attacks, which it claims have never targeted civilians, despite overwhelming evidence.
Officials have claimed the bloodied pregnant women were crisis actors, and that both the maternity hospital and drama theater were really housing neo-Nazi troops.
Mizintsev has, however, been confirmed as playing a leading role in operations in Mariupol, where he blames Ukrainian troops for creating “a terrible humanitarian catastrophe.”
On Sunday, he had promised “all those who lay down arms will be guaranteed a safe exit from Mariupol,” an offer that Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk rejected as “manipulation.”
“There can be no talk of surrender and laying down weapons,” Vereshchuk said.