The Russian military is essentially laying waste to the port city of Mariupol. According to Ukriane’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, “Russia has chosen to raze Mariupol to the ground.” Ukrainian troops are surrounded, and while fighting valiantly, they cannot hold out indefinitely. There are underground tunnels and a long, protracted, guerilla warfare is always a possibility, but given no intervention by NATO, the Ukrainian city will be lost to Russia. It would give Russia unfettered access to southern and eastern Ukraine and access to the Sea of Azov. The Russian military has stated that if Ukrainian forces don’t surrender, they will be “destroyed.”
In an interview broadcast on CNN President Zelenskyy said he would not even consider handing over to Moscow any territory, as a concession to end the war. He said, “Ukraine and its people are clear. We have no claim to anyone else’s territories, but we are not going to give up ours.” He may have no choice in the matter, just as Ukraine had no choice in 2014, when the Russians annexed Crimea. While that situation was definitely different, with the head of the Navy and half of the military in Crimea defecting, the fate of Mariupol will be the same, unless there is international intervention.
Russia’s military says it controls almost all of the territory of Mariupol except for an area right on the Sea of Azmov; Azovstal, a steelworks, where as many as 1,000 fighters are holding out. According to Justin Crump, a British military veteran and CEO and founder of Sibylline, the steelworks, “has nuclear bunkers, tunnels, it’s built to survive a nuclear conflict. They are really set for defense.” He continued, “They have had more than fifty days to fortify it and build escape routes. I suspect that unless they are wiped out, they’ll be there a long time. It’s credible there would be guerilla resistance.” Regardless, they can not hold out indefinitely if Russia controls the rest of the city. The soldiers will eventually run out of munitions and essentials like food and other necessary supplies.
Mariupol is a city of about 450,000 people. If most of the population flees, there will be nothing to come back to. They UN and the free world must take a stand against Putin or risk their credibility, although it may already be too late to save that. The entire purpose of the UN was to establish a means of resolving conflicts without innocent civilians bearing the brunt of the violence. To build a world based on civility and justice. But of course, those are just words. Countries will back down to a bully, even when the cause is just, until it’s too late and given no choice. This is the only lesson to come from the unprovoked attack on Ukraine. Once again, the world has failed to rise to the occasion. Never again should the free world be allowed to throw out words that have no meaning.