Mariupol residents survive heavily damaged city

STORY: Many residents had their homes destroyed during the battle, which left some apartment blocks as charred, skeletal buildings.

Nina Tifchenko, a 78-year-old resident, told Reuters her apartment burned to ashes and her son carried her out of it with just the clothes she was wearing. She now hopes to receive a new apartment once it's built.

Shortly after the fighting ended, Russia started restoring the houses and constructing new ones to replace the residential property destroyed.

In September Russian-installed authorities held referendums on joining Russia on the Russian-controlled territory.

The referendums have been condemned by Ukraine, Western leaders and the United Nations as illegitimate.

Russia maintains that the referendums offer an opportunity for people in the region to express their view.

Ukraine says it will never accept Russian control of any of its territory and will fight until the last Russian soldier is ejected.

This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.