The fall of Mariupol may be within sight, as a thousand marines surrender in the besieged city.
Mass Surrender In Mariupol
Having been cut off from reinforcement or resupply for much of the conflict, large numbers of Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol surrendered on April 12th, day 48. According to Russian sources, 1,026 marines from the Ukrainian 36th Naval Infantry Brigade surrendered to separatist forces.
A video released via the pro-Ukrainian Euromaidan Press showed a number of well-known soldiers recording a statement that they had ‘not been supplied with ammunition for 48 days’ and that after fighting continuously against Russian forces throughout this time.
It is likely that the defenders were running short on food, water, and/or ammunition by the time the surrender took place. The 36th Brigade is believe to constitute the majority of defenders in Mariupol, and a full surrender of the city may be expected soon.
Russian sources have repeatedly claimed that NATO officers have been leading the defence of Mariupol, though these claims are as yet unsubstantiated. One surrendering soldier is known to Twitter as ‘cossackgundi’, a 28 year old volunteer with British citizenship (and former care worker from Nottingham) contracted by the Ukrainian marines since 2018, having previously fought for the Peshmerga in Syria. Cossackgundi’s real name is Aiden Aslin.
Among the many reports emerging from Mariupol, pro-Russian accounts have shared images of small drones rigged with liquid containers and sprayers. The implication is that these drones would be responsible for yesterday’s reported chemical attack against Azov, which mildly injured 3 servicemen.
Following the fall of Mariupol, Russia will be able to divert significant resources to other theatres of the conflict; specifically the East Donbas ‘cauldron’ and the Front near Zaporizhzhia and Polohy. How much resistance remains in the city after this mass surrender will become clear over the following days.
Shelling of Kharkiv has continued ‘non-stop’ over the past days, with the outlying distinct of Saltovka receiving particularly heavy bombardment recently.
Transnistria and Belarus
Ukraine increased security on the borders of Transnistria and Belarus. Russia’s previous invasion of North Ukraine utilised a broad area of Belarussian territory, including the use of airbases and missile launch sites. Transnistria is a tiny, Soviet-style ‘rump state’ surrounded by Ukraine and Moldova, from which various analysts have expected a pro-Russian intervention in the Ukraine conflict. Thus far, Transnistria appears to have remained neutral.
Pro-Russian Politician Captured
The Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk has been captured by Ukrainian security services. Medvedchuk is one of President Zelensky’s political opponents and was indicted on charges of treason before the invasion began; he since escaped house arrest and has been at large in the country for 48 days. Curiously, he was captured wearing a Ukrainian military uniform, which had helped him evade capture.
‘Putinflation’ or ‘Bidenflation’?
In a recent speech, US President Joe Biden again blamed the rising cost of living in the US on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
For context, since the invasion of Ukraine, US inflation has risen from 8.0% to 8.5%. Since Presiden Biden’s tenure, inflation has risen from 1.2% to 8.5%.
Factors affecting this inflation rise include multi-trillion dollar public spending packages, rampant money printing, the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and general economic mismanagement. Whether the attempt to scapegoat foreign affairs for America’s economic situation is successful among voters remains to be seen.