Ukrainian fighters put up last-ditch resistance in tunnels under abandoned steel plant in Mariupol

S7 News

Experts say the fall of Mariupol, seen as strategically vital for Russian plans to attack eastern Ukraine, is inevitable

MARIUPOL: Russia has claimed 1,026 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered in the besieged port city of Mariupol but a top adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists the city is still standing and some marines have joined another battalion, reports BBC.

Experts say the fall of Mariupol, seen as strategically vital for Russian plans to attack eastern Ukraine, is inevitable.

However, Ukrainian fighters are putting up a last ditch resistance in tunnels under an abandoned steel plant in Mariupol as Russian forces close in on the besieged port city.

The steelworks being used by resistance fighters to defend Mariupol were branded 'a city within a city' by a representative for pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk region. He said: 'There are several underground layers that date back to Soviet times which you can't bombard from above. You have to go underground to clean them out, and that will take time.'

Entering the tunnels would be all but impossible for Russian troops, according to Alexander Grinberg, analyst at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. 'They can try, but they'll be slaughtered because the defenders of the tunnel will absolutely have the tactical upper hand,' he said.

Fighters have in the past used tunnel systems to great effect in their struggle against superior forces.

Satellite surveillance is also of limited use against combatants hiding below ground. However, as analysts point out, the underground system only works if the network is vast and fighters have enough ammunition, food and water, which requires meticulous advance planning.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Karim Khan, who has visited the Ukrainian town of Bucha, has said the country was "a crime scene". "We're here because we have reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court are being committed," he told reporters. "We have to pierce the fog of war to get to the truth. That requires independent, impartial investigation," he added.


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