NPR reports that the Ukrainian city of Mariupol is now in Russian hands, after more than two months of bitter fighting and constant Russian shelling that destroyed massive swaths of the city and killed thousands of civilians, according to local officials. By controlling the strategic city of Mariupol, Russia has solidified its land bridge to Crimea and now controls the entire north shore of the Sea of Azov.
Mariupol has fallen to Russia. Here's what that means for Ukraine (NPR)
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Excerpt from NPR: Ukraine formally declared an end to its combat mission in Mariupol late Monday. Evacuations of Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant, Ukraine's last military holdout, began earlier that day. The Russian Defense Ministry says nearly 1,000 soldiers have surrendered since then, including dozens of wounded soldiers being treated at a hospital in the Donetsk region of Ukraine controlled by Russian and separatist forces. It is unclear how many Ukrainian soldiers remain in Mariupol.
Russia seized on the mass surrender of Ukrainian troops at a Mariupol steel plant as a propaganda gift on Wednesday, moving to falsely label them as terrorists and create a parallel narrative to Ukraine’s portrayal of Russian soldiers as heinous war criminals, according to the The New York Times.
The mass surrender, which ended the longest battle of the three-month-old war, was depicted by the Russians as a glorious turning point in a conflict that Western military analysts and rights groups have described as disastrous for the Kremlin and its forces, which have bombed Ukraine indiscriminately and been accused of other atrocities, wrote The Times.
Russia Uses Surrender in Mariupol to Portray Ukrainians as Terrorists (New York Times)
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Excerpt from The New York Times: Images of the surrendering Ukrainians were publicized by the Russians just as a Russian soldier pleaded guilty in a Ukrainian courtroom to fatally shooting an unarmed civilian, in a widely followed case. Ukraine had initially described the mass surrender of the soldiers at Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant, which its military ordered Monday night, as the only alternative to their near-certain death against hopeless odds, and as a prelude to a prisoner exchange. But there was no talk from Moscow of swapping any captives, and by Wednesday it was clear that the Kremlin intended to use the prisoners for other purposes.
In a related story, a 21-year-old Russian soldier has pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian, in the first war crimes trial in Ukraine since the war started, reports BBC News. Vadim Shishimarin admitted shooting a 62-year-old man a few days after the invasion began. He faces life in jail.
Russian soldier pleads guilty in first war crimes trial of Ukraine conflict (BBC News)
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Excerpt from BBC News: The prisoner was brought into the tiny Kyiv courtroom in handcuffs, flanked by heavily armed guards. He looked nervous, and kept his head bowed. The widow of the man killed was sitting just a couple of meters from him. She wiped tears from her eyes as the soldier entered court, then sat with hands clasped as the prosecutor set out his case, describing the moment Kateryna's husband, Oleksandr Shelipov, was shot in the head. "Do you accept your guilt?" the judge asked. "Yes," Shishimarin replied.
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