What Is Behind Azov’s Claim Rebels Could Easily Take Mariupol?

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This article originally appeared at The Truth Speaker

Head of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, and of the Social Nationalist movement in Ukraine, Andrey Biletskiy, has said only one DPR battalion could take control of the city of Mariupol, the coastal city of near half a million in south Donbass.

1. It’s unclear how honest Biletskiy is being here. Mariupol has been fortified as a major Ukrainian stronghold for some time, with many of the 230 humvees sent from the US, battle-equipped in Ukraine, and other military equipment sent as part of the $75 million US deal, based in Mariupol.

2. Biletskiy’s remarks come amid an escalating situation in and around Mariupol with fighting between sides intensifying there.

3. The Azov Battalion have recently been on the end of further bad publicity, with two of their members filmed laughing, joking as they fire on an apartment building in Mariupol. Yet it must be said most western media have ignored this, in favour of relentless stories about ‘Russian-backed separatists’, and their supposed plans to capture Mariupol.

4. There was a referendum in Mariupol just over a year ago with the city turning out, voting by a huge majority to secede from Ukraine. And growing reports from inside the city of building discontent with Ukrainian forces there. Biletskiy’s remarks may be designed as a ‘provocation’ to incite a local reaction, and clamp down on that.

5. One thing Biletskiy clearly wants is funds to build the ‘zone of fortifications’ he references, giving an idea that while his statement in itself may be disingenuous, it may also be allied to real fears of the DPR’s ability to take Mariupol.

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