Ukrainian commanders lash out at Kyiv over Mariupol resistance

The commanders of the Ukrainian forces holding out against Russian troops in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol lashed out at the government in Kyiv for not doing enough to help them defend the city.

“Our government failed in the defence of Mariupol, failed in the preparation of the defence of Mariupol,” said Ilya Somoilenko, a lieutenant in the Azov regiment, the military unit that has been leading the Ukrainian resistance from a last redoubt at the vast steel works on the edge of the city.

The “authorities have been sabotaging the defence of Ukraine for eight years,” he said.

Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment, accused the government of “cynicism” for celebrating the evacuation of small groups of civilians when so many people had been killed in Russia’s assault on the south-eastern port city.

The two officers were speaking to reporters via Zoom from one of the bunkers at the besieged Azovstal facility.

Their comments are the first public display of dissent within the Ukrainian military which has otherwise celebrated its battlefield achievements in fending off Russia’s full-scale invasion over 10 weeks. It is also a sign of the desperation of the Ukrainian forces who are under constant artillery bombardment and repeated attempts by Russian forces to storm their redoubt underneath the steel plant.

All remaining women, children and seniors were evacuated from the steelworks in the south-eastern port city on Saturday, according to the…

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