APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War

A man rides his bicycle next to a destroyed Russian tank in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory, Thursday, in the battle for Mariupol despite an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters still holed up at a giant steel mill, ordering his troops not to storm the stronghold but to seal it off “so that not even a fly comes through.”

Putin expressed concern for the lives of Russian troops in deciding against sending them in to clear out the sprawling Azovstal steel mill, where the die-hard defenders were hiding in a maze of underground passageways.

Putin’s comments came as satellite images showed more than 200 new graves in a town where Ukrainian officials say the Russians have been burying Mariupol residents killed in the fighting. The imagery, from Maxar Technologies, shows long rows of graves stretching away from an existing cemetery in the town of Manhush, outside Mariupol.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko accused the Russians of “hiding their military crimes” by taking the bodies of civilians from the city and burying them in Manhush.

After nearly two lethal months of bombardment that have largely reduced Mariupol to a smoking ruin, Russian forces appear to control the rest of the strategic southern city, including its vital but now badly damaged port.

But a few thousand Ukrainian troops, by Moscow’s estimate, have stubbornly held out for weeks at the steel plant, despite a pummeling from Russian forces and repeated demands for their surrender. About 1,000 civilians were also trapped there, according to Ukrainian officials.

Instead of sending troops in to finish off the defenders in a potentially bloody frontal assault, Russia apparently intends to maintain the siege and wait for the fighters to surrender when they run out of food or ammunition.

Boychenko rejected any notion that Mariupol had fallen into Russian hands.

“The city was, is and remains Ukrainian,” he declared. “Today our brave warriors, our heroes, are defending our city.”

The capture of Mariupol would represent the Kremlin’s biggest victory yet of the war in Ukraine. It would help Moscow secure more of the coastline, complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014.

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

I wonder how much money Biden (sniffles) is skimming off of the funds America is sending Ukraine...?

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