Ukrainian President Zelensky still sees resistance, but the Russian Ministry of Defense says it has ‘completely erased’ Mariupol. Russian state news agencies Tass and RIA say that “there are no more active Ukrainian troops” in the urban area of the port city. In addition, if this claim is true, the city would be largely in Russian hands.
According to the New York Times, Ukrainian President Zelensky said Ukrainian military personnel are still active, but only in small parts of the city. “Despite this, our guys are heroically defending the city,” he told Ukrainian media, “and we are grateful for that.”
Members of the Azov Battalion would still survive, but would be completely cut off from the outside world. They would, among other things, take root in the industrial complex.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said nearly 1,500 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered. According to the same ministry, 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers are still fighting. Ukraine did not comment on the figures.
The Ukrainian government has previously said the situation in Mariupol is ‘very difficult’ and the humanitarian crisis is as big as ever. Earlier today, Zelensky, among others, contacted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson regarding the difficult situation.
Fighting has been going on in Mariupol for weeks. The port city is constantly being bombed by the Russians and strongly defended by Ukrainian militants. According to the mayor, more than 21,000 residents were reportedly killed.
According to RTL NIeuws correspondent Jeroen Akkermans, who is in Ukraine, Russia is ‘at least winning’ in Mariupol. “This report that Mariupol will be in Russian hands is almost inevitable sooner or later.”
Hearths of resistance are getting smaller
He continues: “Russia’s supremacy has been so great in recent days. And the Ukrainians have had problems with ammunition supply and refreshing the corps.” According to Akkermans, the pockets of resistance on the Ukrainian side are ‘getting smaller’. They seem to be still there, but according to Akkermans it’s ‘hard to verify’.
Russia has clearly set its sights on the city. “You can count on them to do everything they can to take that city, no matter how,” says Akkermans.
This is mainly due to the strategic position of the city. Peter Wijninga, a defense expert at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies, told RTL Nieuws earlier: “Marioepol is located between Donbass and Crimea, so it is also called a land bridge. It is very important for Russians to have a land connection with Crimea.”
More information about the strategic position of Mariupol follows in the video below:
In addition, the Ukrainians cut off the supply of water from the Dnieper River to the Crimea. They did this to thwart the Russians. “By possibly capturing that so-called land bridge, the Russians will get not only a better connection with Crimea, but also fresh water,” Wijninga said.
If the Russian claim is correct, then the Russians can indeed raise their flag in that city, says Jeroen Akkermans. But that says nothing about the rest of Ukraine and the further course of the war. According to Akkermans, it is mostly a symbolic victory, because: “In principle, it is and remains a flag on scorched earth.”
The situation in Mariupol
Earlier this week, Jeroen Akkermans described the situation in the port city as follows: “No one is coming. There are bombings, but above all a lot of artillery and rocket fire. There are also house-to-house battles. This increases the chance that people will always survive And the dead are temporarily buried, if at all. The city is in a state of emergency. Food has almost no running water or electricity. Those who remain are in survival mode. There is no alternative. “
“The Russians want to close the city from Monday,” Akkermans says. “Then no man can come in or out.”