The Ukrainian military leadership has dampened hopes of launching an offensive to free the fighters trapped in the Mariupol Steel Plant. “As of today, such a deblocking operation would require a significant number of troops because Ukrainian forces are 150-200 kilometers from Mariupol,” Deputy Chief of General Staff Oleksiy Hromov said on Wednesday. Because the Russian troops have also built powerful defense systems in the meantime, such an operation costs many victims.

The port city of Mariupol in south-eastern Ukraine has been under siege by Russian troops for more than two months. The last Ukrainian fighters, in addition to marines and units of the nationalist Azov regiment, have entrenched themselves in the Azovstal steelworks there. They are calling on Kyiv and the international community to use either diplomatic or military means to save them.

In the past few weeks, around 500 civilians who were also staying at the steel mill have been rescued via refugee corridors. Russia rejects a free withdrawal of the fighters. They should lay down their arms and go into captivity.


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