Mariupol: Despite little change on the ground, Vladimir Putin attempted to claim victory in the beleaguered port city. He stated that Ukrainian soldiers occupying the plant complex would be offered another opportunity to surrender.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin ordered Russian soldiers to completely surround a steel facility in Mariupol where Ukrainian troops were holding out. Even while Russian forces have been unable to overpower the remaining Ukrainians, who have given no indication that they are willing to surrender, the Russian leader attempted to claim victory in the besieged city, calling a direct attack “impractical.”
According to Oleksiy Arestovych, Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Russia has opted to blockade the besieged Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol because it cannot take it by force.
“They understand that they cannot physically seize Azovstal, and they have suffered significant losses there. Our defenders are still holding it “At a press conference, Arestovych stated.
It “may also be explained by the fact that they have relocated part of their forces (from Mariupol) to the north in order to reinforce the troops seeking to achieve their major objective… pushing to the administrative boundaries of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” according to the report.
According to Ukrainian officials, Mr. Putin’s remarks on national television were an attempt to reassert control of a crucial city that Russia has failed to totally conquer despite two months of shelling that has killed tens of thousands of civilians.
According to Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Mariupol’s mayor requested a cease-fire on Thursday to allow more residents trapped in the city to exit, a day after four buses transporting refugees managed to leave.
It was unclear whether any evacuation corridors would apply to the hundreds of people thought to be sheltering in bunkers beneath the Azovstal steel complex with Ukrainian forces. Mr. Putin directed his forces to ensure that “not even a fly” could get past the site’s siege.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine reiterated his call for international partners to supply “serious and heavy” armaments in his nightly speech. According to military analysts, Russia escalated its attack across eastern Ukraine, adding more weaponry while its forces gained tiny territory gains along the 300-mile front.
Mr. Putin took the daring step of testing a new intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday, labeling it a warning to Western countries to “think twice” before “trying to attack our country.” The test has only added to the Biden administration’s anxieties that Russian President Vladimir Putin is more isolated than ever as he redoubles his offensive to reclaim complete control of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
On Thursday, Russian soldiers announced that Kreminna, a town in the Luhansk region of the Donbas, was under their “complete control.” On Wednesday, the regional governor of Ukraine stated that Russia had controlled 80% of Luhansk.
According to the Pentagon, Russia has formed 76 battalion tactical units in southeastern Ukraine, each with up to 1,000 men, up from 65 just a few days earlier, and around 22 more just beyond Ukraine.
After the Russian cruiser Moskva sank last week in the Black Sea, at least ten families of crew members have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with inconsistent claims about whether their sons are alive, missing, or dead. Their demands, made on social media or to news organizations, may erode public support for Mr. Putin’s war effort.
Putin Puts off an Assault on Mariupol and Claims Victory
As he tried to claim victory in one of the war’s bloodiest engagements, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin called off an assault on a steel mill that has become Ukraine’s last redoubt in the port city of Mariupol, instead of ordering Russian soldiers to blockade it.
In a meeting broadcast on state television on Thursday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that all of Mariupol was under Russian control, except for the industrial zone of the Azov steel plant, where more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters had taken refuge, according to Shoigu.
Mr. Shoigu informed Mr. Putin that finishing the work at the steel mill would take “three to four days.” In the carefully arranged discussion, Mr. Putin responded by calling the plant’s storming “impractical.”
Mr. Putin said, “I order it to be canceled.” “This is a situation in which we must think — always, but especially in this case — about safeguarding the lives and health of our soldiers and officers. There’s no need to enter these dungeons or crawl around these industrial buildings underneath.”
It was a moment that permitted Mr. Putin to position himself as a logical and cautious wartime leader intent on preserving human life, as word of severe Russian deaths in Ukraine circulated over Russian social media.
Mr. Shoigu was urged to blockade the facility, where Ukrainian fighters had been holed up underground for weeks, “such that a fly can’t get through,” and to call on the Ukrainians still inside to lay down their arms once more. He promised them “their lives and honorable treatment” in Russia.
It was also an attempt by the Kremlin to claim significant gains in the long-running conflict. Mr. Shoigu labeled Mariupol as a “haven for Ukrainian nationalists” with weaponry capable of striking Russian cities across the Sea of Azov during the televised conference. According to this logic, the Kremlin will be able to portray Mariupol’s conquest as a step toward fulfilling Mr. Putin’s stated aims of “demilitarising” and “denazifying” Ukraine when he announced the invasion on Feb. 24.
Mr. Putin was seen addressing Mr. Shoigu, “Of sure, taking control of such an important center in the south as Mariupol is a success.” “Congratulations.”