By Oleg Burunov | Sputnik | May 7, 2022
Late last month, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Mariupol had been liberated from Ukrainian forces, and that order can now be restored in the city. Shoigu, however, stressed that the “remaining radicals” were still under siege at the Azovstal steel plant.
French independent journalist Anne-Laure Bonnel has presented eyewitness accounts of the crimes of neo-Nazis from the Azov Battalion in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol at an informal UN Security Council meeting.
Bonnel, in particular, showed a video of an interview with an unnamed male resident of Mariupol, in which he explained that he had managed to flee the city by secretly making his way along the coast of the Sea of Azov.
According to him, Azov Battalion members “occupy residential houses, beat people and don’t let them leave their homes”.
“I know for sure that people are not allowed out of their houses, they are hit with buttstocks and forced to stay at home. The Azov Battalion won’t let anyone either walk through nor leave by car. I personally know a person who was simply not allowed to leave,” he claimed.
Another resident of Mariupol named Anna said that she had not heard anything about humanitarian corridors, arguing that the Ukrainian military deployed military hardware, including armoured personnel carrier, in the courtyards of residential areas.
She was echoed by one more Mariupol resident, Ilya Klochko, who said that Azov Battalion members “deployed howitzers to residential areas and shot from there”, adding that he’d heard nothing about humanitarian corridors.
The eyewitnesses spoke as Russian troops continue to block the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, with humanitarian corridors operating throughout Saturday. According to Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) officials, a total of 176 civilians had already been evacuated from the territory of the Azovstal plant, where the remaining Ukrainian forces have been hiding since the takeover of the port city by the Russian troops.
Liberation of Mariupol
In late April, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that Mariupol “was liberated by the Russian armed forces and the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR)” and that “the remnants of the nationalist formations took refuge in the industrial zone of Azovstal”.
Putin, in turn, called the assault on Azovstal pointless and ordered it to be cancelled. He explained that it is necessary to think about saving the lives of Russian soldiers and officers, ordering the Azovstal zone to be blocked.
At the time the DPR declared its independence from Kiev in 2014, Mariupol was the second-largest city of the Donbass republic after Donetsk. It was taken by Kiev’s forces back that same year. Since the beginning of Moscow’s special military operation on 24 February, the Russian troops and Donbass militias have been pushing Ukrainian forces from the city. During the liberation of Mariupol, witnesses reported numerous crimes committed by the Ukrainian militants in the city, including taking hostages and using civilians as human shields.