Ilovaisk & Mariupol: How the Two Ukrainian Army Cauldrons Are Similar and Different

NEW – April 18, 2022

On Saturday, during an interview with Ukrainian media, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky compared the situation in Mariupol with the situation near Ilovaisk in August-September 2014.

Now the situation has repeated itself: nationalists, foreign mercenaries and soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were blocked in Mariupol, only now not only the forces of the DPR, but also soldiers of the Armed Forces of Russia surround them.

The lessons of Ilovaisk did not benefit – right now the Ukrainian authorities do not give the order to their soldiers to surrender.

Map from the “Rybar” Telegram channel. Ukraine controls only “Azovstal” and the surrounding areas.

Creating a cauldron

“Squeezing the cauldron” became possible thanks to the correct tactics of conducting the special military operation. Large parts of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and nationalists were shackled near Kiev, Chernigov and other key Ukrainian cities, that is, in the interior of the country. They could not redeploy them to help Mariupol, where more than 8,000 people were pinned down and surrounded, most of them nationalists from “Azov“, “Aidar” and “Right Sector“. All attempts to break through to Mariupol by helicopters and ships, including those with foreign flags, were doomed to failure.

Along with this, the Russian Armed Forces destroyed military infrastructure: airfields, makeshift repair bases, oil storage facilities and weapons depots, which also interfered with the supply of the cauldron. The blockade of Mariupol, of course, is a landmark stage of the special military operation.

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Mariupol is the second largest city in the Donetsk region and one of the largest ports on the Sea of Azov. After the formation of the DPR, structures loyal to Kiev were transferred to the city. The militia from Donbass tried to capture the city several times, in particular, in 2014 and 2015, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Mariupol is located 10 kilometres from the territories controlled by the LPR and DPR, and its geographical location makes this city strategically important, since its capture will create a land corridor from Lugansk to Donetsk and further to Crimea. In addition, it is symbolic that Mariupol is the birthplace of one of the most violent nationalist battalions in Ukraine – “Azov”.

As is known from the speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on February 24, the liberation of Donbass, demilitarisation and denazification are the main and main goals of the operation and they are successfully implemented thanks to this correctly chosen tactic.

Drop your weapons and run!

In 2014, on August 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the armed formations of the DPR to open a humanitarian corridor for the encircled Ukrainian military near Ilovaisk, in order to allow them to leave the area of fighting, having received medical assistance. Putin also called on the Ukrainian government to cease fire and enter into negotiations with representatives of the DPR. The armed forces of the DPR accepted this proposal, but clarified that the Ukrainian military should leave the cauldron without weapons.

Captured Ukrainians in Ilovaisk

On the night of August 30, the commander of the nationalist battalion “Donbass”, Semyon Semenchenko, said that the Ukrainian leadership had agreed to withdraw the military until 10 o’clock in the morning of the same day, which “with weapons and banners will be released through a special corridor to the place of deployment of the main forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

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Part of the Ukrainian military used the corridor and safely evacuated – about 500 people.

White flag in Mariupol

A similar situation occurred on April 17 in Mariupol. The Russian Armed Forces called on Ukrainian nationalists and foreign mercenaries to stop fighting and lay down their weapons. From 6 am on April 17, the military declared a state of silence so that the UAF fighters could surrender and save their lives. Moreover, they were willing to take even mercenaries into captivity, although they do not fall under the requirements of the Geneva Convention on the Humane Treatment of Prisoners of War.

Order from Kiev

The day before, April 16, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky gave a press conference. At it, he said that the military themselves must choose – life or death, they will be the heroes of Ukraine anyway. He has said this many times before. But what is said to journalists does not correspond to what is reported to the military. From Kiev to Mariupol there were regular reports that the city was about to be de-blocked, it remains to wait quite a bit. Those who wanted to surrender were given a bullet in the back from the “Azov” detachments. According to radio interception, Kiev forbade negotiations on surrender, ordering the “Azov” nazis to shoot on the spot anyone who wanted to lay down their arms among Ukrainian military personnel and foreign mercenaries, said Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry.

When Zelensky says at a press conference that the decision to surrender or not is at the discretion of the military themselves, he is simply afraid to take responsibility, although he clearly understands that in order to save human lives, he is simply obliged to give the order to lay down their arms. Instead, he shied away from responsibility and exposes detachments. The reason is simple: the prisoners of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and, especially, the “Azov” people, can tell a lot about the terrible provocations in Mariupol: in the hospital complex and the Drama Theatre.

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Historical parallels

The most similar situation from recent history is the encirclement of the sixth army of Hitler’s troops during the Battle for Stalingrad during the Great Patriotic War. Friedrich Paulus received a personal order from Adolf Hitler – not to allow surrender, and at the same time – congratulations on receiving the rank of field marshal. The Nazi leader’s plan was simple – field marshals never gave up in German history. But Paulus made the right decision – he surrendered and spared the lives of himself and his soldiers.

War against fakes

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