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Russians Try To Repeat Mariupol Playbook In Severodonetsk

Russians are besieging Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city, and urging troops there to surrender as they offer a shaky evacuation corridor for civilians. The siege and symbolism recalls the siege of Mariupol, which didn't end well for Ukrainians.

Russians Try To Repeat Mariupol Playbook In Severodonetsk

A Russian earlier this week at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which is now occupied by Moscow's forces

Vladimir Gerdo/TASS via ZUMA
Irene Caselli, Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

In a two-sided move that eerily recalls the tragic events in the southern port city of Mariupol, Russia has urged Ukrainian troops to surrender in Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city where fighting is raging, while at the same time pledging to spend the day evacuating civilians.

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Severodonetsk, in Luhansk region, has assumed a symbolic weight in the war as Russia focused on trying to win over control of Donbas and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeating that it is a “decisive” battleground. Russian troops have encircled the city over the past few weeks, trying to take it back from Ukrainian forces that had taken control in 2014 from pro-Russian separatists.

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Geopolitics

Mykolaiv Postcard: Life On Ukraine's Creeping Southern Front Line

The fate of Mykolaiv and surrounding areas of southern Ukraine are crucial in the next stage of the war. A reporter visits local villages ... and the troops on the front line.

Aftermath of shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine

Kateryna Petrenko

MYKOLAIV — This large port city in eastern Ukraine carries great strategic importance for the war. After the Russian army managed to destroy Mariupol and occupy most of the Kherson region, which has access to the annexed Crimea, it leaves Mykolaiv, along with Odessa, as the largest port cities with access to the Black Sea.

If these cities fall, Ukraine will not only lose control over the eastern territories, but also access to the Black Sea, which will completely halt exports and imports by sea.

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Needless to say, the fate of Mykolaiv is highly important. And with hundreds of thousands of people still living in the city and surrounding region, a reporter from the Ukrainian media Livy Bereg visited one of the villages on Mykolaiv's outskirts to see for herself how Ukrainians live in close proximity to the Russian army.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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