The strategic and symbolic importance of Mariupol, the Ukrainian city besieged by Russia_freckles removal qatar

The strategic and symbolic importance of Mariupol, the Ukrainian city besieged by RussiaThe Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has been under siege for three weeks. University of Toronto professor Aurel Braun explains what control of the city would mean for the wider war.

Social Sharing

UofT prof Aurel Braun says city is significant battleground for both Russia and Ukraine

CBC Radio(Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Also, they are looking at the fact that some of the defenders belong to the Azov Battalion or sometimes called the Azov Regiment. And some of those people have been associated, there have been individuals with really sordid connections, neo-Nazis. And if the Russians can capture some of those, they can put them on exhibit and say, "You see, this is the fight against neo-Nazism." And let's not forget that from the very beginning, Vladimir Putin claimed that this is a fight, that for Russia, is one over an existential threat.

In a sense, it's a replay of the Great Patriotic War. The fight against Nazism, that the government of Ukraine is made up of a group of drug-addicted neo-Nazis, and if you can find examples of that, you can smear all of Ukraine with that label. 

So there's a propaganda piece to that as well?


In some ways, Mariupol was an obstacle in the 2014 [occupation] by Russia into Crimea.

Yes. This is a fairly substantial city. It's not a huge city, but over 400,000 people. It has very large industries, metal and chemical industries; [it is] a rather polluted city. But it was economically important to Ukraine. And in terms of connections over contiguity, it is a kind of obstacle to Russian military plans. And it's almost as if the Russians cannot admit that they have been failing, because in many ways the Russian invasion has been failing.

  • Ukraine holds on to Mariupol as civilians escaping the port city describe devastation

This was not the expectation that Russia had. Vladimir Putin and his supporters in the military, and the secret services expected that by now, Vladimir Putin would be holding a parade in Kyiv. A victory parade that they would be welcomed by the local population, or they could cow the local population into accepting Russian rule. So this act of defiance is this kind of combination of strategic concern, of symbolism, of history in the making.

WATCH | The battle for control of Mariupol

The battle for control of Mariupol, a key Russian target

5 days agoDuration 4:34Warning: This video contains distressing details. Russian forces continue their relentless assault on Mariupol, fighting for control as Ukraine refuses to surrender the besieged city. Plus, Royal Military College of Canada professor Walter Dorn explains why seizing Mariupol is strategically important for Russia.Why is the red and black flag, seen at rallies in support of Ukraine, causing such a stir?


top 10