February 1, 2023

Why the Battle for Mariupol Is Important for Putin

3 min read

The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is a powerful symbol for Russia.

It is a predominantly Russian-speaking city in the eastern part of Ukraine, known as Donbass, where President Vladimir V. Putin falsely claimed “genocide” in Ukraine before launching his attack.

Azovstal steel plant in the middle of the city It has also become the last stronghold. The Ukrainian army’s Azov Regiment, which began with a far-right military group, the Azov Battalion, has confirmed Mr Putin’s false statement that the country is under “Nazi” control. The steel plant is the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol as Moscow’s forces make a last-ditch effort to gain control of the city.

In weeks of fierce fighting, most of the city of more than 400,000 was leveled, and Ukrainian officials say more than 20,000 civilians were killed. But despite this horrific loss, Russia’s state-run media are now highlighting Russia’s occupation of almost all of Mariupol as a long-awaited victory in Mr Putin’s campaign to “destabilize” Ukraine.

This message is especially important for the Kremlin this week, as it prepares for Monday, May 9, the anniversary of Russia’s Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Victory Day holiday – one of the most important dates on the Russian calendar as it commemorates the 27 million Soviets killed in World War II – has already prompted the Russian government to promote national pride in support of the war. Is using

Vladimir Solovyov, an honorary state television host, traveled to Mariupol this week and was caught in the city’s video holding court in military exhaustion. To tell later The audience said that the locals “wanted to touch and hug me.”

Another host, Dmitry Kasyliev, highlighted the fight for Mariupol last Sunday in his Marquee weekly news show, which AnnouncementDenazification occurs when the neo-Nazis of the Azov Battalion rot alive in the basement of a cold factory.

But perhaps the most striking sign of Mariupol’s significance ahead of May 9 is that one of Mr Putin’s most powerful aides, Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Karyenko, visited the city this week. He was. Shown Meeting a man whom Mariupol described as a veteran of World War II, and seeing the man who became the first Mariupol resident to obtain a passport for the breakaway “Donetsk People’s Republic”, Mr Putin recognized independence in February.

On Wednesday, Mr Kerenko helped unveil a statue of “Grandmother Anya” – according to Russian media, a Ukrainian woman filmed greeting Ukrainian soldiers with a Soviet banner last month, apparently thinking she was Are Russian

Anya, whose full name is not known, has become a symbol for Russian war supporters that some Ukrainians are in fact saluting Russian troops as liberators. In his speech, Mr Kerenko called the May 9 holiday a “living symbol of racial continuity.” Continuation in the war against Nazism and Fascism.

Mr Karyanko is in charge of domestic politics in Mr Putin’s administration, and the fact is that he is closely associated with Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine. Seen as a signal That the Kremlin could plan to annex the area to Russia. In Mariupol, Mr Karyenko said it would not be possible to hold a Victory Day parade on Monday in the main Donbass cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, but he vowed to do so in the future.

“The time will come, and it will come soon,” said Mr Kerenko.

Russia’s state media has briefly covered the devastation in Mariupol, and falsely claimed that Ukrainian forces were largely responsible for firing on their own city. At the unveiling of the statue on Wednesday, Denis Peshlin, head of the separatist region of Donetsk, acknowledged the devastation but also promised World War II that the city would be rebuilt, according to a statement from his office. According to a report.

“I’m sure we can handle that, too,” he said. “Especially since Russia is with us.”

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