The Russians investing in post-war Mariupol and the potential impact on the city

In the wake of the destruction caused by Russian forces in Mariupol, some Russians are now looking to buy property in the occupied city. This has implications for the future of Mariupol and its residents, as well as potential consequences for the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

The occupation of Mariupol by Russian forces resulted in significant damage to the city, with approximately 90% of buildings being damaged or destroyed. Thousands of civilians were killed, and many residents were forced to flee. Now, as the occupation continues, the Russian authorities are actively working to “Russify” the city by changing road signs, introducing Russian curriculum in schools, and encouraging residents to acquire Russian passports.

One significant aspect of this transformation is the interest of Russians in buying property in Mariupol. Through social media platforms like VKontakte, Russians have been searching for properties in the city, attracted by the low prices and the city’s location by the sea. The Kremlin-controlled media has been promoting the reconstruction efforts in Mariupol as a success story, portraying life as returning to normal and new developments springing up across the city.

Satellite imagery, however, reveals a different picture. While some new high-rise estates have been built, much of the city still remains devastated. Many buildings in the city center are missing their roofs, and only about 10% of the damaged homes have been repaired. Additionally, instead of replacing demolished buildings, some areas have been left as empty lots.

The process of obtaining a replacement flat for those whose homes were destroyed has also been slow and restrictive. Locals report being placed on waiting lists and facing restrictions in practice, with new buildings often standing half-empty. There are allegations that flats are being given out selectively to those who hold pro-Russian views, and owning other properties outside of the demolished flats can result in denial of a replacement.

Despite the scale of destruction and reported issues faced by residents, the Russians interested in buying property in Mariupol seem undeterred. They believe that Russia will rebuild the city and make it even better than before. However, there are concerns about the potential return of Ukrainians and the possibility that property rights granted during the occupation could be declared void if Ukraine recaptures the city.

The influx of Russians buying property in Mariupol could have a significant impact on the city’s future. It may contribute to the further “Russification” of the city and create tensions between the Russian and Ukrainian populations. Additionally, the slow and selective process of providing replacement flats raises questions about fairness and equity in the reconstruction efforts.

The situation in Mariupol is a microcosm of the larger conflict between Ukraine and Russia. It highlights the human cost of war, the challenges of reconstruction, and the complexities of post-war recovery. As the conflict continues, it is crucial to consider the long-term consequences for the affected communities and work towards a sustainable and inclusive solution that addresses the needs and aspirations of all residents.