Despite heavy attacks on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the city’s defenders have continued to fight, disrupting Russian operations and blunting the momentum of Russia’s Donbas offensive. Mariupol’s defenders, a mix of Ukrainian marines and Azov battalion fighters, have been facing off against an overwhelming Russian force, with Russian bombardments heavily damaging the factory in which many soldiers and civilians alike find themselves entrenched.
Previously, there were many reports of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering, and some foreign fighters were confirmed to have capitulated. But many of Mariupol’s defenders continue to fight, using Azovstal’s ‘city-like’ tunnel system to make sorties against Russian forces.
Repeated calls for a ceasefire or humanitarian corridors have been rejected by either side, with Ukraine citing unsafe conditions given Russia’s repeated targeting of civilians.
Though the situation in Mariupol is grim, Ukraine has recently received a surplus of aid with which to conduct operations in the Donbas. The Pentagon confirmed the transfer of fighter planes to Ukraine from an unknown state. Potential donors include Poland and Romania, the latter of which recently grounded its MiG fleet but could be any Eastern European nation given their fierce opposition to Russia’s invasion.
Along with the transfer of heavy artillery from the U.S. and U.K., the planes will contribute to Ukraine’s defense during what Zelenskyy has cited as the most crucial stage of the war; winning the battle of the Donbas while maintaining the public’s awareness on the war in Ukraine. Should Ukraine win, it could make significant gains in pushing back exhausted Russian forces, who, despite having most of their combat power remaining, have not been able to translate their overwhelming force into success on the ground.
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