Mariupol defenders ignore Russia surrender deadline

Ns News Online Desk:Ns News Online Desk: The Ukrainian troops defending the huge Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol may hold out for a long time with guerrilla tactics, using its nuclear bunkers and tunnels, a military expert says.

Justin Crump of security consultancy Sibylline told the BBC “they are really well set for defense”, having had more than 50 days to fortify the site and build escape routes.

“I suspect that unless they are wiped out they’ll be there a long time – they could do nasty stuff at night, and go back in.”

He estimates as many as 800 fighters are defending the plant, led by the far-right Azov Battalion – a group vilified by Russia as “neo-Nazis”.

“The soldiers there don’t want to get captured, I don’t think they’ll surrender. And Russia doesn’t want to go in and clear it out meter by meter, underground, that’s horrendous,” he said.

Ukraine has managed to resupply its beleaguered forces in Mariupol in very risky night-time missions, he said.

The steelworks is a key industrial site and, if Russia does get control of it, “maybe the Chinese will get them back in operation, as they want the steel”, Mr.  Crump said. But it will take years to rebuild devastated Mariupol, he added.

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