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Russian forces plan to close access to Mariupol on Monday and ban movement within its districts in order to filter Ukrainian men, some of whom will be forced to fight against their own country, an advisor to the city’s mayor has said.

Petro Andryushchenko said today men in Mariupol would be ‘filtered’ by Moscow, meaning some would be made to clear rubble, some would be forced to join the Russian army, and those deemed ‘unreliable’ would be ‘isolated’. 

The Mayor’s advisor wrote on Telegram that the process had already reached ‘maximum momentum’, with Russian forces using filtration camps and checkpoints to determine which of the city’s residents could still be of use to them.

Those going through the filtration system were being subjected to ‘interrogation, gadget testing and body examination,’ he said.

Andryushchenko also said that the Kremlin plans to shut off the besieged port city from April 18 (Monday) to anyone wishing to enter or exit. 

Russia is doing this, he said, because the Mariupol is no longer hospitable for the residents who have stayed behind since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his brutal invasion of Ukraine on February 24. 

Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov in southeastern Ukraine, has seen the worst fighting of the seven-week-long war. Home to 400,000 people before Russia’s invasion, the city has been reduced to rubble by Russian shelling. 

Over 20,000 civilians are believed to have been killed, tens of thousands remain trapped in the city, and countless numbers have fled. It is one of a number of sites were international investigators believe war crimes have taken place – including the bombing of a maternity war and of a theatre sheltering hundreds of people.

Amid fears that Mariupol could soon fall under complete Russian control, Ukraine said on Friday that it was still trying to break the siege of the city, as fighting raged around the city’s massive steel works and port.

Russian forces plan to close access to Mariupol on Monday and ban movement within its districts in order to filter Ukrainian men, some of whom will be forced to fight against their own country, an advisor to the city's mayor has said. Pictured: A Russian armoured personnel carrier  drives through the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Russian forces plan to close access to Mariupol on Monday and ban movement within its districts in order to filter Ukrainian men, some of whom will be forced to fight against their own country, an advisor to the city's mayor has said. Pictured: A Russian armoured personnel carrier  drives through the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Russian forces plan to close access to Mariupol on Monday and ban movement within its districts in order to filter Ukrainian men, some of whom will be forced to fight against their own country, an advisor to the city’s mayor has said. Pictured: A Russian armoured personnel carrier  drives through the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov in southeastern Ukraine, has seen the worst fighting of the seven-week-long war. Home to 400,000 people before Russia's invasion, the city has been reduced to rubble by Russian shelling. Pictured: A Russian armoured personnel carrier, April 15

Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov in southeastern Ukraine, has seen the worst fighting of the seven-week-long war. Home to 400,000 people before Russia's invasion, the city has been reduced to rubble by Russian shelling. Pictured: A Russian armoured personnel carrier, April 15

Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov in southeastern Ukraine, has seen the worst fighting of the seven-week-long war. Home to 400,000 people before Russia’s invasion, the city has been reduced to rubble by Russian shelling. Pictured: A Russian armoured personnel carrier, April 15

‘The occupiers are announcing that not only the city will be closed for entry / exit for everyone from Monday, but there will also be a ban on moving around the districts for a week,’ Andryushchenko wrote on Telegram. ‘At this time , 100% of men will be filtered . remaining in the city, for which they will be moved to Novoazovsk.’

He continued: ‘According to information, some people are planned to be mobilized to the Russian occupation corps, some are forced to be sent to clear the debris, and some of the unreliable are isolated.

‘Given all the factors, the occupiers are going to leave in the city only women and men to serve the needs. We attribute this to the impossibility of keeping the civilian population in the city, even in the least liveable conditions.’

Detailing the ‘filtration’ programme, the Mayor’s advisor wrote: ‘The filtration procedure has gained maximum momentum. 

In filtration camps and checkpoints, one hundred percent of men after standard filtration abuse (interrogation, gadget testing, body examination) are separated from others and separate interrogations are conducted, including instigation of execution. 

‘In general, we can say that from 5 to 10 percent is not filtered and then exported to Dokuchaevsk and Donetsk. The future is unknown at this time, we are working.’

In recent weeks, Russia’s military focus has shifted to seizing the eastern Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists control the Donetsk and Lugansk areas.

This would allow Moscow to create a southern corridor to the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Ukrainian authorities have been urging people in the region to quickly move west in advance of a large-scale Russian offensive.

Andryushchenko’s update would suggest men from Mariupol could be being sent to the region and forced to fight for the Russian invaders.

Service members of pro-Russian troops ride on armoured vehicles in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road leading to the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Service members of pro-Russian troops ride on armoured vehicles in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road leading to the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Service members of pro-Russian troops ride on armoured vehicles in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road leading to the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Service members from Chechen Republic look on during fighting in Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Service members from Chechen Republic look on during fighting in Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Service members from Chechen Republic look on during fighting in Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

If Moscow captures Mariupol, it would be the only big city to fall to the Russians so far. Russia’s defence ministry said it had captured the city’s Illich steel works. The report could not be confirmed.

Ukrainian defenders are mainly believed to be holding out in Azovstal, another huge steel works.

Both plants are owned by Metinvest – the empire of Ukraine’s richest businessman and backbone of Ukraine’s industrial east – which told Reuters on Friday it would never let its enterprises operate under Russian occupation. 

‘The situation in Mariupol is difficult and hard. Fighting is happening right now. The Russian army is constantly calling on additional units to storm the city,’ defence ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a televised briefing, although he said the Russians have not completely captured it.

Motuzyanyk said Russia had used long-range bombers to attack Mariupol for the first time since its Feb. 24 invasion.  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he discussed the fate of the besieged port city of Mariupol in a meeting on Friday with the country’s military leaders and the heads of its intelligence agencies.

Local residents walk past an apartment building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Local residents walk past an apartment building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Local residents walk past an apartment building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

A view shows the Illich Steel and Iron Works, which has seen heavy fighting during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

A view shows the Illich Steel and Iron Works, which has seen heavy fighting during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

A view shows the Illich Steel and Iron Works, which has seen heavy fighting during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

‘The details cannot be made public now, but we are doing everything we can to save our people,’ Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation.

Elsewhere in southern Ukraine, he said Russian troops who occupy areas around Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were terrorizing civilians and looking for anyone who had served in the army or the government.

‘The occupiers think this will make it easier for them to control this territory. But they are very wrong. They are fooling themselves,’ Zelensky said.

He added: ‘The occupiers’ problem is not that they are not accepted by some activists, veterans or journalists.

‘Russia’s problem is that it is not accepted – and never will be accepted – by the entire Ukrainian people. Russia has lost Ukraine forever.’ 

On Friday, it was alleged that Russian troops in Mariupol are digging up thousands of dead civilians and burning their bodies in mobile crematoriums in a possible bid to destroy evidence of atrocities like the ones discovered in Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv when the Russians withdrew from the region.

Mariupol’s city council – in a post on Telegram – said Moscow’s men were exhuming bodies buried in residential courtyards within the city and were assigning watchmen to each square to stop locals from reburying their dead friends and relatives. 

‘Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown,’ the council said in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app. 

On Thursday, Mayor Vadym Boychenko warned corpses ‘carpeted the streets’ of Mariupol as he accused Moscow of incinerating tens of thousands of civilians killed during a siege that has trapped well over 100,000 civilians in desperate need of food, water and heating. 

Russian forces have in recent days made advances in Mariupol with Moscow claiming on Wednesday that its troops had taken control of the final Ukrainian strongholds in the city including the Azovstal industrial complex, where Kyiv’s forces have been holed up in a hellish last stand for several days.  

But Ukrainian marines who have teamed up with the Azov regiment to defend Mariupol yesterday appeared in a video to rebuff the claims as they denounced more than 1,000 fellow soldiers who surrendered to Russian forces on Wednesday and vowed to do ‘whatever it takes’ to protect the city. 

Service members from Chechen Republic walk during fighting in Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Service members from Chechen Republic walk during fighting in Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Service members from Chechen Republic walk during fighting in Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

A view shows the gates of the Illich Steel and Iron Works damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

A view shows the gates of the Illich Steel and Iron Works damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

A view shows the gates of the Illich Steel and Iron Works damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022

Ukraine’s richest man, meanwhile, has pledged to help rebuild Mariupol, a place close to his heart where he owns two vast steelworks that he says will once again compete globally.

Rinat Akhmetov has seen his business empire shattered by eight years of fighting in Ukraine’s east but remains defiant, sure that what he calls ‘our brave soldiers’ will defend the Sea of Azov city reduced to a wasteland by seven weeks of bombardment.

For now, though, his Metinvest company, Ukraine’s biggest steelmaker, has announced it cannot deliver its supply contracts and while his financial and industrial SCM Group is servicing its debt obligations, his private power producer DTEK ‘has optimised payment of its debts’ in an agreement with creditors.

‘Mariupol is a global tragedy and a global example of heroism. For me, Mariupol has been and will always be a Ukrainian city,’ Akhmetov said in written answers to questions from Reuters.

‘I believe that our brave soldiers will defend the city, though I understand how difficult and hard it is for them,’ he said, adding he was in daily contact with the Metinvest managers who run the Azovstal and Illich Iron and Steel Works plants in Mariupol.

On Friday, Metinvest said it would never operate under Russian occupation and that the Mariupol siege had disabled more than a third of Ukraine’s metallurgy production capacity.

Akhmetov praised President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ‘passion and professionalism’ during the war, seemingly smoothing relations after the Ukrainian leader last year said plotters hoping to overthrow his government had tried to involve the businessman.

Akhmetov called the allegation ‘an absolute lie’ at the time.

‘And the war is certainly not the time to be at odds… We will rebuild the entire Ukraine,’ he said, adding that he returned to the country on Feb. 23 and had been there ever since. 

Akhmetov did not say where exactly he was, but that he had been in Mariupol on Feb. 16, the day some western intelligence services had expected the invasion to begin. ‘I talked to people in the streets, I met with workers…,’ he said.

‘My ambition is to return to a Ukrainian Mariupol and implement our (new production) plans so that Mariupol-produced steel can compete in global markets as before.’

Russia invaded on Feb. 24 when Putin announced a ‘special operation’ to demilitarise and ‘denazify’ the country. Kyiv and its Western allies reject that as a false pretext for an unprovoked attack.

A local resident crosses a near-deserted street, damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022.

A local resident crosses a near-deserted street, damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022.

A local resident crosses a near-deserted street, damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 15, 2022.

Konstantin Ivashchenko (C), former CEO of the Azovmash plant and newly appointed pro-Russian mayor of Mariupol writes notes flanked by his bodyguards, in Mariupol on April 12

Konstantin Ivashchenko (C), former CEO of the Azovmash plant and newly appointed pro-Russian mayor of Mariupol writes notes flanked by his bodyguards, in Mariupol on April 12

Konstantin Ivashchenko (C), former CEO of the Azovmash plant and newly appointed pro-Russian mayor of Mariupol writes notes flanked by his bodyguards, in Mariupol on April 12

Akhmetov, long Ukraine’s richest man, has seen his business empire shrink since 2014, when Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and two eastern Ukrainian regions – Donetsk and Luhansk – proclaimed independence from Kyiv.

According to Forbes magazine, Akhmetov’s net worth in 2013 reached $15.4 billion. It currently stands at $3.9 billion.

‘For us, the war broke out in 2014. We lost all of our assets both in Crimea and in the temporarily occupied territory of Donbas. We lost our businesses, but it made us tougher and stronger,’ he said.

‘I am confident that, as the country’s biggest private business, SCM will play a key role in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine,’ he said, citing officials as saying the damage from the war has reached $1 trillion.

‘We will definitely need an unprecedented international reconstruction programme, a Marshall Plan for Ukraine,’ he said, in reference to the U.S. aid project that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War Two.

‘I trust that we all will rebuild a free, European, democratic, and successful Ukraine after our victory in this war.’

Source: dailymail

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