Russian Tanker Spotted for First Time in Mariupol as Port Handles Logistics

Fighting in the port area in April 2022 (Russian-aligned DPR forces)

Published Jun 14, 2024 1:04 PM by The Maritime Executive


Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, which was the scene of intense fighting in the spring of 2022, is becoming a new Russian supply port according to unconfirmed reports from local officials. Ukrainian media is carrying reports from the Russian social media channel Telegram of the arrival of the first tanker as Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined terms for a cease-fire that was immediately rejected by Ukraine.

The mayor of Mariupol Vadym Boichenko is quoted as saying Russian forces are using the port city as a logistics base. He reports that the Russians have begun using the remaining infrastructure for military purposes and are laying new railway tracks.

On Telegram, Pyotr Andryushchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol, posted pictures of an unidentified tanker at the port. He reports it is the first time that Russia has sent a tanker into the occupied port.

“Don’t pay attention to the size of the tanker. One of these is enough to supply the front for two or three days, taking into account tank columns,” he writes in the caption of the photo. “This is about full preparation for the launch of the railway to the port.… This is either for diesel locomotives for long distances or for their armored cargo. There are no options,” the message says.



Last month, he also reported the movement of equipment in the direction of Berdyansk through Mariupol. He said they had spotted “dozens of trucks with ammunition and manpower.”

At the beginning of the invasion in February 2022, the U.S. reported that Russia had launched an amphibious assault on Ukraine's Sea of Azov coastline near Mariupol. The city was the tenth-largest in Ukraine and the second-largest city in the Donetsk region before the start of the war. It was also a major seaport.

After seizing the port, Ukraine accused the Russians of stealing grain stored in warehouses. Several ships were damaged or destroyed in the seaport. Italian shipping company Fratelli Cosulich reported that one of its bulkers was trapped in the port and was only released in November 2022 after months of fighting in the region.

News of the Russian use of the area for logistics came as Putin said he would issue a decree for a ceasefire if Ukraine ceded control of the occupied regions and agreed to abandon efforts to join NATO. The Associated Press is quoting Ukrainian officials as calling the proposal “manipulative” and “absurd.” It comes as Western nations are meeting in Switzerland to seek the first steps toward peace in Ukraine.