Mariupol Surrenders to the Russian Army After Epic 82-Day Siege – Opinion

Monday was a day when the Ukrainian garrison surrendered to the huge Azovstal iron and steelworks plant at Mariupol.

The Russian military sent a warning on March 19 that seemed very serious. The Mariupol defenders were given a matter of hours to surrender the city, lay down their arms, and accept a Russian guarantee of “safe passage” out of the city or the garrison, which Moscow termed “nationalists,” “foreign mercenaries,” and “bandits,” would face a “military tribunal.” The reason for the Russian action was that Mariupol had resisted Russian assaults for over three weeks, and some 20 Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) that were desperately needed for other operations were bogged down in street fighting (Mariupol Defenders Reject Russian Demand for Surrender Setting up the Largest Siege of a City Since WWII).

The garrison was driven into tunnels and bunkers after a three-month long siege. The garrison was cut off and ran out of food, ammunition and the ability to heal their wounds.

As the scene grew grimmer in the underground complex–surgery and amputations were performed without anesthesia and antibiotics–several attempts were made to negotiate a way out. The Red Cross and Vatican tried all to broker safe passage, with an assurance of interment until the end, but failed. Finality was the combination of the heavy bodies of fallen comrades, and the absence of means of resistance.

Two hundred Ukrainian prisoner were wounded and taken to Donetsk, Russian-occupied Donetsk. They were then transferred to Olenivka. They will exchange them for a similar number of Russian prisoner, according to the terms of surrender.

The men had to give up their lives to the Russians. If Russian officers were described by General George Patton as “giv[ing] the appearance of recently civilized Mongolian bandits,” the Russian soldiery is establishing a reputation as brutal, undisciplined, and devoid of honor. Their politicians, if anything, are even worse. The groundwork for reneging on the prisoner exchanging agreement is already being laid.

It is unlikely that the surrendered men will survive the ordeal. The Russians suffered too many casualties and lost time.

They did everything that was reasonable. This group of men held Mariupol for nearly a month and kept 20,000 Russian soldiers (roughly 1/6) in Ukraine bound up. This surrender caused heavy losses to the Russian units and they will have to rebuild their combat effectiveness.

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