Ukraine on Wednesday accused Russia of planning to hold a military parade in the captured city of Mariupol on May 9 to celebrate victory over the Nazis in World War II.
kyiv said an official from Russia’s presidential administration had arrived in the strategic southern port city, which has been largely destroyed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for more than two months, to oversee plans for the Day of the Dead parade. the victory.
“Mariupol will become a center of ‘celebration,'” Ukraine’s military intelligence said in a statement on social media.
“The central streets of the city are being urgently cleared of debris, bodies and unexploded ordnance.”
Mariupol is one of the most battered cities in Ukraine. A group of Ukrainian forces continue to hold out at their Azovstal steel plant.
“A large-scale propaganda campaign is underway. The Russians will be shown stories about the ‘joy’ of the locals meeting the occupants,” he said.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko later told Ukrainian television that “works” were underway in the city, as if the Russians were preparing for something.
“They are removing traces of the crimes they have committed,” he said.
The Ukrainian military said on Tuesday that Russian troops had launched an offensive to drive out troops inside Azovstal shortly after the United Nations and the Red Cross confirmed the evacuation of more than 100 civilians from the site.
The Kremlin denied that Russia was storming the plant on Wednesday, but Boichenko said there was “heavy fighting” there and that city officials had “lost contact” with troops inside with no way of knowing “what’s going on, if they’re saved or not.” “.
In a briefing on the army’s plan for May 9, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made no mention of a celebratory march in Mariupol.
He said the parades would take place in 28 cities, with the participation of some 65,000 people, 2,400 pieces of military equipment and more than 400 aircraft.
Russians celebrate Victory Day every year on May 9 with military parades and public events marking the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat by the Soviet Union in World War II.
Moscow has said that the goal of its massive invasion was to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.
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