Guardians of the hero Mariupol are preparing plans for Putin’s Victory Day on May 9

Ukrainian officials on Friday announced the rescue of hundreds more civilians trapped in a besieged steel mill in the devastated city of Mariupol.

An official in the presidential office Volodymyr Zelensky said nearly 500 civilians have now been evacuated from the Azovstal plant, though it is unclear how many remain there.

But for the 2,000 Ukrainian fighters believed to remain in the vast Azovstal complex, home to a labyrinth of underground tunnels designed to withstand a nuclear attack, freedom is a prospect. distant.

Mariupol’s last defenders face what could be the longest weekend of their lives as Russian forces – desperate to offer something for Vladimir Putin to celebrate Victory Day Monday – try at all costs to capture the factory.

Victory Day, which marked the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, is the largest event on the Soviet calendar, with annual parades on Red Square attended by soldiers. Red Army soldiers, the latest tanks and missiles of the Cold War.

It’s no longer a mystery in post-Soviet Russia, especially since Putin launched his ill-fated “special operation” to “denuclearize” Ukraine on February 24. Many in A number of border crossers were wearing uniforms in their tanks and APCs, confident that they would march through “liberated” Kyiv within days — but 10 weeks later, Russia had no victory. actually in a conflict that has claimed the lives of about 25,000 soldiers including dozens of senior officers .

The closest to a Russian victory was at Mariupol, the strategic port city on the Sea of ​​Azov was among the invaders’ first targets. The city of nearly half a million people was virtually destroyed and thousands perished in the relentless bombardment, of which an estimated 600 were killed while sheltering in a theater.

The last defenders of the city are holed up in the Azovstal steel mill, including units from the Azov Regiment, a fighting force that began operating as a new Nazi paramilitary unit in Donbas war in 2014 but is now part of the Ukrainian National Guard. When Kremlin propagandists talk about “segregation,” the word “Azov” never lags far behind.

In its daily intelligence update on Friday, the British Ministry of Defense said Russian forces were continuing their ground assault on Azovstal, despite President Putin ordering a “blockade” of it last week. prior to. Russia’s new attempt to secure Azovstal and complete the capture of Mariupol may be related to the upcoming Victory Day celebrations on May 9 and Putin’s desire for a symbolic success in Ukraine. “.

Ukraine’s military intelligence (GUR) announced on Thursday that Russia is planning to hold a Victory Day parade in Mariupol, to allow Putin to claim at least a tactical victory inside Ukraine. “The main avenues of the city were urgently cleared, debris and bodies of the dead, as well as ammunition, did not explode,” it said.

The most chilling thing was that, according to another Ukrainian official, the Russians planned to take some 2,000 men detained in a nearby “filter camp” and march them through Mariupol in a “prison parade”. war” – although they are impractical. prisoner of war.

“It would be a grotesque crowd scene for another propaganda image,” said Pyotr Andryuschenko, aide to the mayor of Mariupol.

Putin’s main spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Friday denied that any parade had been planned for Mariupol, although he said one would eventually be held there.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian soldiers in Azovstal, lacking food, water and medicine to treat the wounded, could only hold on.

“They won’t surrender,” Kateryna Prokopenko, whose husband Denys is Azov’s commander, told the Associated Press. “They just hope for a miracle.”

Prokopenko is talking after a phone call with her husband in which he says that he will love her forever. “I will go crazy over this. It seemed like goodbye,” she said. Guardians of the hero Mariupol are preparing plans for Putin’s Victory Day on May 9


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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