War in Ukraine: updates from Kyiv

Concern for Ukrainians caught in the conflict with Russia has prompted Flinders University international relations lecturer Dr Jessica Genauer to launch a podcast with a fellow academic based in the Ukraine capital, Kyiv.

The #UpdatefromKyiv podcast is featuring regular updates from Maksym Yali, Professor of International Relations at the National Aviation University in Kyiv, along with insights by strategic analysts from around the world. This includes Flinders University international law expert Dr Rowan Nicholson, from the College of Business, Government and Law.

Dr Genauer says on-the-ground observations from Kyiv include a conservation taped on Friday 22 April about Professor Yali’s home town of Mariupol, which Russian President Vladimir Putin claims is now under Russian control.

“Mariupol is bombed, bruised and battered, but it seems that Ukrainian forces have not surrendered and – perhaps ironically – a complex Soviet-era construction, the Azovstal Steel Plant, is the only thing stopping the complete fall of the first major city in Ukraine to Russian forces since the full-scale invasion began,” Dr Genauer observes.

“Street fighting is still taking place in Mariupol, at least a kilometre outside the perimeter of the steel plant. So it seems that fighting is on-going. In addition, the steel plant – built on a network of interlocking underground tunnels during the Soviet Era, would be almost impossible to besiege, being 11 square kilometres in size.”

Listen to the latest update from Professor Maksym Yali at the link below:https://updatefromkyiv.podbean.com/

The southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been one of the most significant urban battlegrounds since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February this year. Mariupol – called the beating heart of Ukraine by President Volodymyr Zelensky – was a thriving city, home to almost half a million residents, and an emblem of the modern, urban post-soviet era in Ukraine. Most of the city now lies in ruins as a result of constant bombardment from Russian shelling.

On 21 April, Putin declared a complete Russian victory over Mariupol, but stated that Russia would not be entering the steel plant where Ukrainians defenders and civilians are located. Russia would rather besiege the steel plant so that no-one could escape.

Several hours later, President Zelensky of Ukraine stated that whilst Russia was under control of significant territory in Mariupol, Ukrainian defenders were still engaged in active combat with Russian forces.

So, has Mariupol capitulated?

Ukrainian Armed Forces remaining in Mariupol have not surrendered and are holding out in the Azovstal Steel Plant. This is agreed upon by both sides, but disagreement concerns whether these soldiers are still actively fighting and whether or not the Russian military can successfully surround them in the steel plant and force their surrender.

Dr Genauer says victory over the Azov regiment will depend on the arrival of heavy weapons and reinforcements from the broader battle in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“Mariupol is important to Putin strategically as Russia is trying to connect a land corridor from Crimea through to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” she says.


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