Heroic Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol use a network of tunnels under steel mills to stage last stand against Russians

HERO Ukrainians defending Mariupol use tunnels under a steel mill to stage a last stand against the Russians.

Vladimir Putin’s Forces have besieged the southern harbor since the beginning of the war, much of it reduced to rubble by constant aerial and artillery fire.


troops from the Ukrainian The 36th Marine Brigade and Azov Battalion are currently entrenched at the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.

Below the factory are a number of Cold War-era bunkers, when they were built to protect workers from nuclear attacks.

The high-security, labyrinthine bunkers are said to house around 1,500 Ukrainian soldiers and are six stories underground.

Alexander Grinberg, an analyst at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, said the Russians face an insidious task of clearing the bunkers.

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“They can try, but they will be slaughtered because the tunnel defenders will absolutely have the tactical upper hand,” he said.

“Perhaps the only reliable way to clear the site would be to use a chemical weapon or chlorine gas, but that would be quite complicated to introduce into the system and would obviously risk escalating the larger conflict.”

“It is up to the Ukrainians whether they surrender or instead fight to the last man.

“From what we’ve seen so far, they seem to have decided to fight to the last man.”

Among those who defended Mariupol were the British Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinnerwho were shown on television after their capture.

Brave Aidan surrendered after his unit ran out of food and ammunition in the city and was screened on Russian television on Thursday with a wound on his forehead and a half-closed eye.

Michael Clarke, visiting professor of defense studies at King’s College London, said defenders could use the tunnels “to get around and surface and conduct raids”.

“They will go down fighting and the longer they can hold out, the more they will prevent the Russians from moving north, which is what Putin really wants from them,” he added.

Warplanes have historically used tunnel systems successfully in combat against superior forces.

The Viet Cong has made the huge Cu Chi tunnel system near Saigon a base for attacks on US troops, and Hamas has used tunnels in its fight against the Israeli army.

The Islamic State group’s tunnel system in Mosul, Iraq, allowed its fighters to surprise American troops with sudden appearances that seemed to appear out of nowhere.

But the most memorable example comes from World War II and the Battle of Stalingrad with its fierce fighting in the Red October industrial complex.

A sapper unit discovered a former factory used by German troops, piled three tons of explosives under it and blew up the entire complex, burying the Germans in the rubble.

The clever use of tunnels has lost none of its effectiveness in the 80 years since, rendering enemy artillery, airstrikes and snipers virtually useless.

Russian troops on their way to the besieged city of Mariupol


Russian troops on their way to the besieged city of MariupolPhoto credit: Reuters
According to experts, the Russians have to fight for the steelworks


According to experts, the Russians have to fight for the steelworksPhoto credit: Eyevine
The city was devastated by the fighting


The city was devastated by the fightingPhoto credit: Kommersant Photo / Polaris

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