Mariupol, the diehards of Azovstal and the long siege: now there is the dilemma of surrender

from Lorenzo Cremonesi

During the battle, the image of the Azov militants changed in the perception of the population: from fanatical nationalists, even Nazis, to patriots able to express the will to defend the freedom of all

HUMAN – At this point the diehards who for over two months resisted the Russian siege in Azovstal steel mills of Mariupol have risen to symbol of Ukrainian strength and courage. Not only in the South, but throughout the country, starting with the volunteer army that from February to the end of March they were able to stand up to the brigades sent by Putin with specific orders to capture Kiev e topple the Zelensky government.

It is not easy to be symbols. They know it well too. In fact, among the fighters who from the beginning agreed to go volunteers to defend Mariupol, which would have been the first city targeted by the Russians advancing from the Donbass towards the Crimea, there are the best of the Marines units, together with the National Guard. and above all i volunteers of the Azov battalion. Motivated people, well armed, trained, willing to fight by any means and to dieif necessary.

Speaking with displaced people and survivors of the Mariupol tragedy arrived in Zaporizhzhia since May 3, when the UN managed to negotiate with the Russians the evacuation of civilians trapped in the steel plant, we have collected words of great respect for them. They were like angels. They spent every day among us civilians to bring some food and joke for a few minutes with the children, they said.

The image

In that long period of battle and death too the image of the Azov militants radically changed in the perception of the population: from fanatical nationalists, even Nazis covered with racist tattoos, to patriots able to express the will to defend everyone’s freedom. We will never give up. In any case, Putin does not take prisoners. If we give up we will be killed right away. In truth we are already dead, they communicated in their messages until a few days ago. They had become the heroes of Ukraine, invincible and determined not to give up.

Those of Azov are like ghosts, the Russians are terrified of them, as soon as they hear about them they shoot at random, they tear down entire buildings in order to take two, a family just left said the other day. Among the legends that flourished to reinforce their aura of generous invincibility was that of the their ability to move nimbly and quickly through the rubble of the city. They make night sorties, move like panthers, attack Russian patrols and steal their weapons and ammunition, which is why they keep firing, said a little boy, not hiding that when he grew up he too would become one of them.

We today know that their combat capability was carefully thought out and prepared well before the Russian attack. It seems that Zelensky himself argued the need to bring food and ammunition to the maze of dungeons under the steel mill, about a week before the war. They have since had the ability to save ammunition: the Russians spilled cascades of fire, but they responded by sipping the bullets, a Russian victim had to follow each shot. Their videos, statements, together with photos passed on social media have become part of a great epic, together with the events of the spouses in the basement, their children, their struggle with daily needs such as washing and eating.

Towards surrender?

Now it seems they have agreed to let the wounded out. Which will be taken to enemy-controlled hospitals. The Russians insist that their surrender is imminent. But we have little to believe in this, propaganda triumphs precisely where the passions of struggle are most heated. We had already seen this with the continuous contradictory rumors that characterized the evacuation of civilians from the urban area of ​​Mariupol. In their hearts they still hope that Ukrainian victories in Kharkiv they prelude to those of the Donbass and finally to the possibility of being saved by their army.

Otherwise many, not all but many say they are willing to die. Ukraine in struggle today is a country that needs heroes, models both for its people and for the whole of Europe. Will they really keep fighting to the end? We do not know, even Putin would be very annoyed by the new mythology of the martyrs of Azovstal. Any prediction at this point risks being disproved.

May 16, 2022 (change May 16, 2022 | 23:38)

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Mariupol, the diehards of Azovstal and the long siege: now there is the dilemma of surrender

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