The Mariupol Siege

Those fighters that are hold up in the Ukrainian steel mill have been a wealth of pundits telling us all what to expect from Russia….but of all those highly paid pundits who actually work for the arms industry may have got the whole scenario wrong.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces not to storm the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged city of Mariupol on Thursday but instead to block it “so that not even a fly comes through.” His defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said the rest of the city beyond the sprawling Azovstal steel plant has been “liberated”—as Russian officials refer to areas of Ukraine they have seized. Putin hailed that as a “success.” But leaving the plant in Ukrainian hands robs the Russians of the ability to declare complete victory in Mariupol, which has seen some of the most dramatic fighting of the war and whose capture has both strategic and symbolic importance, the AP reports.

The scale of suffering there has made it a worldwide focal point, and its definitive fall would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, and free up Russian troops to move elsewhere in the Donbas region. Putin and Shoigu’s comments appeared to reflect a change in strategy in Mariupol, where the Russians previously seemed determined to take every last inch of the city. Ukrainian officials did not comment on the latest remarks, but earlier said four buses with civilians managed to escape from the city after several unsuccessful attempts.

Thousands more remain in the city, much of which has been reduced to a smoking ruin in a nearly two-month siege, with more than 20,000 people feared dead. On Tuesday, soldiers holed up at the steel plant pleaded for international help evacuating troops and civilians, saying “We fight to the last, but we have very little time left.” Paul Adams at the BBC says Putin’s apparent change of plan may be an effort to speed up the wider Donbas offensive. Or, since the site is one of Europe’s biggest steelworks, “Moscow may be hoping that there’s something of value to salvage” even after weeks of destruction.

Interesting turn of the screw.

But not to worry the US will send all the taxpayer cash and stuff they can…..

President Biden on Thursday announced an additional $800 million in military aid to help Ukraine, and he warned that Congress will need to approve additional assistance, per the AP. The new military package includes heavy artillery, 144,000 rounds of ammunition, and drones for Ukrainian forces in the escalating battle for the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. It builds on roughly $2.6 billion in military assistance that Biden had previously approved. He also announced that all Russian-affiliated ships would be barred from US ports. Biden said that $13.6 billion approved last month by Congress for military and humanitarian assistance was “almost exhausted”.

 

“Next week, I’m going to have to be sending to Congress a supplemental budget request to keep weapons and ammunition deployed without interruption,” Biden said. Congress has signaled it is receptive to further requests and has been expecting there would be a need for further help for the Ukrainians. Biden did not detail how much additional funding he would request. Biden spoke on the new assistance, and more broadly about the situation in Ukraine, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the strategic city of Mariupol. Putin, however, ordered his troops not to risk more losses by storming the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the war’s iconic battleground.

Biden in a brief exchange with reporters following his remarks called Russia’s claim on Mariupol “questionable.” The new tranche of US military assistance is expected to include 72 155mm howitzers, 144,000 artillery rounds, 72 vehicles used to tow to the howitzers onto the battlefield, and over 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones, as well as field equipment and spare parts. Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country will send heavy artillery to Ukraine. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the Netherlands will send more heavy weapons, including armored vehicles.

And the peasants dance…..and the taxpayer weeps…..

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3 thoughts on “The Mariupol Siege

  1. I would go with the idea that Putin doesn’t want to totally eradicate the largest steelworks in Europe. Starve out the defenders, and the Russians still have most of the main infrastructure intact.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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