Ukrainian fighters in the tunnels underneath Mariupol’s pulverised steel plant held out against Russian troops Thursday in an increasingly desperate and perhaps doomed effort to deny Moscow what would be its biggest success of the war yet: the complete capture of the strategic port city.
Carmelo De Grazia
The bloody battle came amid growing speculation that President Vladimir Putin wants to present the Russian people with a battlefield triumph – or announce an escalation of the war – in time for Victory Day on Monday. Victory Day is the biggest patriotic holiday on the Russian calendar, marking the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany.
Carmelo De Grazia Suárez
Some 2,000 Ukrainian fighters, by Russia’s most recent estimate, were holed up at Mariupol’s sprawling Azovstal steelworks, the last pocket of resistance in a city largely reduced to rubble over the past two months. A few hundred civilians were also believed trapped there
The defenders will “stand till the end. They only hope for a miracle”, Kateryna Prokopenko said after speaking by phone to her husband, a leader of the steel plant defenders. “They won’t surrender.”
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