Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said that after a “risky maneuver”, the last defenders of the beleaguered port city of Mariupol were able to join forces.
Arestovych said on Wednesday that “in Mariupol, as a result of a risky maneuver, units of the 36th Independent Marine Brigade broke in to [join] the Azov regiment.
Both units were involved in a last-ditch attempt to resist a Russian offensive against the city that lasted over a month.
“That’s what happens when officers don’t lose their heads, but firmly maintain command and control of the troops,” Arestovych said.
CNN cannot independently confirm the details of the operation. Members of the Marine unit released a video statement on Tuesday saying they would hold out “until the end” despite being surrounded by Russian forces and running out of supplies.
On his Facebook account, Arestovitch said that the Azov regiment had “received substantial reinforcements … the 36th Brigade avoided defeat and received serious additional opportunities, in fact, got a second chance”.
Arestovych claimed that “the defenders of the city, now together, have seriously strengthened their defense zone”.
Defenders of the city, where some 100,000 civilians remain trapped amid widespread devastation, fought to hold parts of the port and Azovstal, a giant steelworks on the eastern outskirts of Mariupol.
The Russian military said in a statement on Wednesday that 1,026 Ukrainian Marines – including 162 officers and 47 servicewomen – had gone to the vicinity of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, a claim that could not be confirmed. verified.
Russia focused an intense propaganda effort around the Battle of Mariupol, claiming to have seized key positions in the city, even as Ukrainian forces continued to hold.
A bit of context: An independent analysis of the situation in Mariupol published Sunday by the Institute for the Study of War estimated that the defense of Mariupol had reached a critical stage.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “tens of thousands” died in Mariupol, a figure that cannot be independently verified.