Ukraine: US split on accepting Russian victory says Basham
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A major clean up is also underway as Putin reportedly intends to place the port city as a centrepiece for the celebrations – which mark victory over Nazi Germany on May 9, 1945. Mariupol has been the site of some of Russia’s worst atrocities during the war, with constant bombardments levelling the streets and accusations by Ukrainian officials of the invaders targeting civilians. Now, photos emerging from the city show workers dressed in orange overalls pulling down Ukrainian road signs and replacing these with Russian ones.
Buildings are also being painted along the city’s main avenue, while workers fix smashed windows.
Posting on Telegram, the Ukrainian Military Intelligence (GUR) said: “Mariupol will become the centre of celebrations.
“The main avenues of the city are [being] urgently cleaned, the debris and the bodies of the dead removed, as well as the ammunition which did not explode.”
After failing miserably in his initial goal of a lightning-fast seizure of Ukraine, Mariupol likely represents an opportunity for Putin to try and demonstrate some level of military success.
Top Kremlin propaganda chiefs have reportedly flown into Mariupol to prepare the city for the parade.
This includes fine-tuning messages about the city while Russian media broadcasts “good news” items about it.
The Victory Day parade on May 9, celebrating the USSR’s victory over Nazi Germany, is a major annual celebration in Russia as well as key for propaganda.
A celebration of the Russian capture of Mariupol is widely viewed as premature – as Ukrainian soldiers continue to fight in the city.
The Azov Battalion is still holding out within the city’s steelworks.
An estimated 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers continued to live in its web of tunnels, towers and pits.
Despite repeated bombardments and assaults, the Russian army has failed to capture it.
According to the Ukrainian authorities, Putin plans to parade prisoners of war at the Victory Day celebrations, leading him to launch another major assault on the steelworks.
Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the official Ukrainian mayor of the city, said the parade “will be a grotesque crowd scene for propaganda”.
Meanwhile, in a social media message, one of the soldiers in the Azov Battalion said that Russian soldiers wanted to “catch some of us alive before May 9 to parade us in cages”.
Prior to the war, 450,000 lived in Mariupol.
Images shared by grieving locals on social media depict the beautiful city bustling with life just days before the invasion.
But after it emerged as a key strategic target for Putin it was bombed relentlessly, leaving it in ruins.
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