Mariupol Siege: UN Still Trying To Evacuate Civilians

Mariupol Siege: UN Still Trying To Evacuate Civilians

Mariupol Siege: UN Still Trying To Evacuate Civilians

There is still a war ongoing in Ukraine, even though it seems to have fallen out of the front page headlines in the United States.

And in that war that Ukraine is valiantly fighting against Russian invasion, the city of Mariupol is still barely holding on. If you recall, Mariupol was especially important to the invasion because taking the city would give Russia complete control from the Donbas region all the way to Crimea. The city was told to surrender over five weeks ago. They did not, and have held fast in the face of certain death. Mariupol has been subjected to death on a massive scale, bombardment, starvation, and possible chemical attacks. There is a civilian holdout at the Azovstal steel plant, where children are hiding and just wanting to go home.

The footage shows a child wearing a makeshift diaper crafted out of tape and plastic bags, asleep in a dank and moldy room. An elderly woman with a bandaged head is seen dressed in a uniform jacket, once worn by steel plant workers, as she shakes uncontrollably. And small children make plaintive requests. “We want to go home,” a girl says. “We want to see the sunshine.”

These scenes are from videos shared online in recent days by the Azov regiment, a unit in the Ukrainian military, which says they were taken in the mazelike bunkers beneath the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. Russian soldiers control the rest of the city and fighting continues around the plant. The plant has become the last refuge for thousands of trapped Ukrainian fighters and civilians. There is no escape, and little chance of rescue.”

The United Nations and the International Red Cross have been trying to get these civilians out of the steel plant, and just a few days ago, they seemed to have made progress when Putin himself agreed “in principle” to let the UN evacuate the civilians.

During a meeting in Moscow, Putin and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed the situation at the huge Azovstal steel plant, where the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol are hunkered down after months of Russian siege and bombardment.”

“Follow-on discussions will be had with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Russian Defence Ministry,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement after the meeting.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Putin told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that there were no military operations underway in Mariupol and that Kyiv should “take responsibility” for the people holed up in the Azovstal steel plant.”

Does Putin have principles? That is highly debatable. The civilians have not left the Azovstal steel plant, and Ukraine claims that Russia is now stopping any evacuations out of Mariupol.

The UN is still trying to get some kind of evacuation corridor opened up.

The mayor of Mariupol said the situation inside the steel plant that has become the southern port city’s last stronghold is dire, and citizens are “begging to get saved.” Mayor Vadym Boichenko added: “There, it’s not a matter of days. It’s a matter of hours.”

Like Putin cares if the children of Mariupol live or die. He’s shown quite plainly his depraved indifference to human life, both the lives of Ukrainians and of his own soldiers. Kyiv was under bombardment attack for the first time in weeks on Thursday, when – surprise! – the Secretary-General of the United Nations was there to talk with President Zelensky.

Russia pounded targets from practically one end of Ukraine to the other Thursday, including Kyiv, bombarding the city while the head of the United Nations was visiting in the boldest attack on the capital since Moscow’s forces retreated weeks ago.”

Nearly a dozen people were wounded in the attack on Kyiv, including one who lost a leg and others who were trapped in the rubble when two buildings were hit, rescue officials said.”

The bombardment came barely an hour after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a news conference with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who said Ukraine has become “an epicenter of unbearable heartache and pain.” A spokesperson said Guterres and his team were safe.”

So, Putin tells the UN Secretary-General while he is in Moscow on Tuesday that sure, he can let the civilians out of Mariupol. Then he has Kyiv bombed on Thursday while the same Secretary-General is there, and by Friday, the Russian forces are stopping any evacuation efforts in Mariupol. But sure, we can totally trust Putin to back up the Iran Deal, right???

And there may be an ongoing shake-up in the Russian armed forces. Obviously, their invasion has not gone according to their plans. There are now reports that “top men” are being told to fix the situation.

There is also the report that Putin himself is now letting his prime minister deal with day-to-day issues while focusing solely on the invasion. If so, this is less a Peter the Great move and more of a Nicholas II move, as Nicholas personally assumed command of the Russian army after “reassigning” his top general (and cousin) during World War I. Historically, Nicholas’s decision is considered a massive mistake on his part. Will Putin live to see similar consequences? Who knows, but a lot of things are mysteriously blowing up in Russia lately.

Last week in Tver, about 100 miles northwest of Moscow, a Russian missile research facility caught fire, killing 17. Russian authorities claimed the blaze was an accident, but they claimed the same thing at first about Moskva.”

At nearly the same time, Russia’s largest chemical plant burned to the ground in Kineshma, about 150 miles east of Moscow.”

On Wednesday, Newsweek reported on “mysterious explosions throughout Russia,” including an ammunition depot in Belgorod, well north of Kyiv. Almost at the same time, nearly 200 miles away in Voronezh, more explosions were reported in a neighborhood near Russia’s Baltimor military airfield. And in Kursk, about halfway in between Belgorod and Voronezh, more explosions were reported.”

And that’s not even all of it! (The link provides a pretty extensive account of a lot of Very Strange Fires and Explosions happening.)

While Putin may be losing his grip, the children hidden at the steel plant in Mariupol are in very real and imminent danger of losing their lives, and the UN seems to be unable to actually help evacuate them. Which seems par for the course for the UN, so unless they find a spine – or someone willing to actually help the Ukrainians bring the civilians out of Mariupol – they will have proven, once again, that they are simply all talk and useless in an actual crisis.

Featured image: Azovstal iron and steel factory in Mariupol, Ukraine, in 2014, via Chad Nagle on Flickr, cropped, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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  • NTSOG says:

    “Historically, Nicholas’s decision is considered a massive mistake on his part. Will Putin live to see similar consequences? ”

    I’m inclined to think that Putin is blindly following the lead of Der Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten [Gröfaz] himself, AH, who took direct control of military affairs of the Third Reich in the later stages of WW II, especially in Russia of all places. That didn’t end well as I understand.

  • Fromage du Nord says:

    “Does Putin have principles?” Why not ask : “Does Zelensky?” One solution not even implied here is that Ukraine can always surrender the city if the slaughter is too great. Why won’t they? Maybe its just too juicy a propaganda weapon to show the suffering civilians; suffering because of Ukraine’s actions just as much as Russia’s. There are always two sides to a conflict.

    • rbj1 says:

      So Ukraine is supposed to surrender sovereign territory to a thug? How about the principle of no more wars for conquest.

      • Fromage du Nord says:

        So they should keep fighting. OK. The slaughter is acceptable.

        • rbj1 says:

          So it is ok fr bigger nations to invade and take over smaller nations. Your endorsement of thuggery is noted.

          The way for the slaughter to end is for Russia to withdraw.

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