War Room | Ukraine, 12 April 2022


Russian and DPR forces have accelerated their assault on the Azov Nazi stronghold of Mariupol, overrunning the port facility in the south-west of the city on 8 April and forcing Ukrainian Army (AFU) and Azov units to retreat into the Azovstal steelworks along the coast. The port had been a key defensive position of the Ukrainian forces, the loss of which has been a terrible blow to the defence of the city.

Mariupol as of 00:00 on 12 April 2022

Since mid-February, the cargo ships Blue Star I, Lady Augusta, Azov Concord, and the Smarta and their international crews have been held by the AFU and effectively used as a human shield. The crew members of these vessels have been safely evacuated by the Russian military and given the necessary medical and humanitarian assistance. Azov fighters had seized two of these ships, using their decks as firing positions.

On 9 April there was an attempt to break the siege of the city by sea with the use of the Maltese registered cargo ship Apache Dry. The operation was foiled by Russian troops and the ship was eventually captured — with minimum fire — by Russian marines. The whereabout and condition of the crew are as yet unknown. It is not clear at this point whether the use of this ship amounts to an act of piracy on the part of the Ukrainians military.

Russian operations have not been limited to the port. Since 8 April, Ukrainian forces have abandoned the length of the coast between the port and the Azovstal steelworks. Presently, allied forces are now in control of all the residential areas of the city and have been distributing humanitarian aid to the civilian population. One human rights organisation in the city has been documenting a series of human rights violations said to have been committed by the Azov Ukrainian soldiers. A number of videos have circulated online supporting these accusations.

On 10 April the flag of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) was raised over the administrative buildings of Mariupol and large numbers of people were filmed coming out onto the streets to welcome the Russian troops, many of them waving the flag of the Soviet Union.

Elsewhere in the east of the country, fighting has intensified at Izym and Severodonetsk — where a fresh Russian and allied offensive has been launched. Severodonetsk came under heavy bombardment from Russian artillery and the infantry of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) attempted unsuccessfully to storm the city. In the south-west, a Slovakian-supplied missile defence system was neutralised by a high-precision rocket and four S-300 missile launchers were destroyed together with a number of personnel.

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