The southeastern port city of Mariupol has come under almost constant attack since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Although the Russians repeatedly claimed that the city had fallen, the Ukrainians still stood. However, 50 days of the attack was costly.
Hundreds of thousands of residents had to flee their homes. Those who remained are given little water, food, and medicine, and risk their lives as a result of the Russian attacks. According to Ukrainian sources, tens of thousands were killed.
Sverre Diesen, a general and former chief of defense, believes Mariupol is an important part of Russia’s further offensive, especially for two reasons.
According to him, the Russians are now very close to success in the city.
Mariupol is important for Russia primarily because of its location.
– The city is located in an important land corridor from Russian lands to Crimea along the coast of the Black Sea. He says that until they control there, they can’t say they own this ground pass.
If the city falls entirely under Russian control, it will be strategically important to connect the Crimea with the Donbass region in the east.
Recently, experts have argued that the lack of Russian progress is due to the Russians Preparing and mobilizing for a new big attack in this area.
Ukrainian authorities urged people in Donbass to evacuate to the west as soon as possible.
Diesen believes a victory in Mariupol could be crucial for the upcoming attack.
Troops will be launched
If Mariupol falls, the troops deployed to control the city can be released to participate in the operation in the Donbass region.
– Then a wedge attack from the south in Mariupol and one from the north in the Kharkiv region could meet in the middle and encircle the Ukrainian forces in the region. Before they take Mariupol, this will be difficult for the Russians, says the general.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that few believed that Ukraine could withstand Russian attacks for long.
– Many experts said that Ukraine would not last a week if Russia invaded. We not only stopped the Russian army, but were able to repel it. But the war is not over yet. This was only the first round, he said in a video on Telegram.
Diesen believes there are now many indications that the city is about to fall.
It may fall within days
And the Russian Defense Ministry claimed, on Wednesday, that Russian forces had taken control of the port of the besieged city.
Defense analyst Michael Clarke said: Sky News That the statement is “absolutely reliable” and “almost certain”. The TV channel reported that control of the rest of the city was still in dispute.
Russia also claimed that 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered, but Zelensky’s advisor Oleksiy Aristovich quickly denied this, and said the soldiers had moved to another military unit.
– It seems that it will be very difficult for the Ukrainians to continue the resistance in Mariupol. Now the Russians fought quarter by quarter, says Diesen.
Although access to images from the city has been limited due to the intense attacks, those posted document the massive devastation. Dessen believes that the significant damage to infrastructure will be to the benefit of the Ukrainians.
– It is a point that the more it is shot and bombed, the more difficult it will be for the Russians to take over the city. It’s the crumbling buildings and infrastructure destroyed in favor of the defender, not the attacker, so the Russians are making it difficult for themselves, says Dessen.
He still believed that the fall of Mariupol was inevitable.
– But most indications are that they will deal with this in a few days.
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