Ukrainian Forces Have Mined Most of Mariupol, Holding Residents Hostage, DPR Says
07:24 GMT 28.02.2022 (Updated: 08:07 GMT 28.02.2022)
Russia announced the beginning of a special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February with the goal of defending the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics from a "genocide" of the Russian-speaking population, targeted by Kiev. Prior to that, Moscow recognised the Donbass breakaways as independent republics.
Ukrainian forces have mined most of Mariupol and are holding residents hostage, according to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) militia spokesman Eduard Basurin.
It is still premature to talk about the liberation of Mariupol, as retreating units of Ukraine’s forces have been mining the city and not allowing residents to leave, said Basurin.
Thus, entering residential areas might entail human casualties, which we seek to avoid, he emphasized.
© SputnikDeputy Commander of DNR self-defense forces Eduard Basurin
Deputy Commander of DNR self-defense forces Eduard Basurin
According to him, the Ukrainian military has resorted to holding civilians hostage because "they are afraid to answer for the crimes that they committed against the population not only of Donbass, but also of Ukraine."
"Therefore, it will be very difficult. It will be a negotiation process, we will convince them to lay down their arms. And the people who live there should not be held accountable for their crimes," Basurin added.
When the DPR was proclaimed in 2014, Mariupol, with a population of over 450,000, was the second largest city in the republic after Donetsk. However, the Kiev government has been at war with breakaway forces in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk since spring of that year, when the new authorities in the Ukrainian capital sent troops to try to crush the Donbass uprisings by force. Since then at least 13,000 people were killed in the conflict and over 33,000 people were wounded, with 2.5 million civilians forced to flee their homes.
On 21 February, amid a Ukrainian military buildup near Donbass and reports of hundreds of violations of the ceasefire by OSCE observers, Russia recognised the Donbass breakaways as independent republics.
On the night of 23 February, amid continued Ukrainian attacks, the states formally requested military assistance from Moscow, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to announce a "special military operation" in Ukraine to "demilitarise and denazify" the country.