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How One Man Dodged Russian Tanks to Escape Mariupol

Ivan Goltvenko loved his city, its culture and climate. Now it lies in ruins, people are buried in make-shift graves, and he counts himself lucky to have got out.

A view onto the yard of the maternity hospital after shelling in Mariupol, on March 9.
A view onto the yard of the maternity hospital after shelling in Mariupol, on March 9.Photographer: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

Residents of Mariupol used to regard themselves as immune to the turmoil enveloping southern Ukraine after they saw off pro-Russian separatists eight years ago. 

“We Mariupol people thought we’d smelled the gunpowder in 2014 and seen a lot,” said Ivan Goltvenko, director of personnel and administration at the city’s Metinvest-owned Azovstal steel plant. “But guess what – we were wrong.”