Earlier this week, Russia declared that it had taken “all of Mariupol.” Which meant that they had captured all of the city except the vast collection of factories, buildings, sheds, scrapyards, and material heaps of the Azovstal complex. Established in 1930, Azovstal was one of the Soviet Union’s largest manufacturers of steel and other alloys through World War II, the Cold War, and into the present day. During all that period, the complex continued to grow, and as it did its importance to the USSR, which was marked by an increasing complex of shelters and tunnels explicitly designed to keep the factory’s 40,000 workers on site and in business, even in the middle of war.

The tunnels beneath Azovstal were designed to take a near-direct hit from a nuclear weapon. For the last two months, hundreds of Ukrainians, including families with children, have been in those shelters and tunnels as part of the resistance to the Russian invasion of their city. And for the most part, those tunnels and shelters have served their purpose, holding out against not just a constant pounding from artillery, incredibly, but against weeks of bombardment by Tupolev Tu-22M “Backfire” bombers that blanketed the area with explosions felt miles away.

But not everywhere is equally protected: On Wednesday evening, a field hospital located within the complex failed under the constant weight of the Russian air and artillery assault.

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Dozens of people, including children, have reportedly died in the attack as Russia continues to bring down the boot on the last holdouts in a city already turned to rubble by weeks of constant attack. Most of those still remaining below Azovstal are fighters from the national Azov Regiment, who Russia has made into the boogeymen of this war. The regiment knows what would happen to them if they tried to surrender. They know what would happen to their families, to their wives and children. 

Azovstal was built to be a shelter under the worst imaginable circumstances. Now those circumstances are here. And unless something changes soon in Mariupol, what started as a shelter will end as a tomb.

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Elsewhere in Mariupol, the BBC reports that Russia has set up “filtration camps” at which local citizens are processed before being taken away to unknown locations within Russia. Some of the few to escape from those camps call conditions there “unimaginable.”

“It was like a true concentration camp,” Oleksandr, 49, says. …

Elderly people slept in corridors without mattresses or blankets, Olena says. There was only one toilet and one sink for thousands of people. Dysentery soon began to spread. “There was no way to wash or clean,” she says. “It smelt extremely awful.”

Those suspected of being “Ukrainian Nazis” or who showed any sign of protest were taken away to be tortured or killed. 

“The filtration camps are like ghettos,” she says. “Russians divide people into groups. Those who were suspected of having connections with the Ukrainian army, territorial defence, journalists, workers from the government – it’s very dangerous for them. They take those people to prisons to Donetsk, torture them.”

The situation in Mariupol is intolerable for the people there. It should be intolerable for everyone who is not there.

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Listen to Markos and Kerry Eleveld talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

Thursday, Apr 28, 2022 · 2:30:48 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Think of Putinism as next-stage Trumpism: Oh, sure, we’re all going to die, but that’s a good thing because we get to go out while expressing our hate for everyone else. It’s all the worst things about radical jihad, in a western suit. Oh, and with nukes.

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Thursday, Apr 28, 2022 · 2:48:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Now we’re getting serious. For the record, this is larger than Russia’s entire budget. Not their military budget. Their whole federal budget.

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Thursday, Apr 28, 2022 · 3:29:49 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Pentagon now estimating 92 Russian battalion tactical groups (BTG) in Ukraine. However, it’s very hard to know how many of these are complete units. Some of the videos of Russian convoys going into Ukraine, or operating in the Donbas, have clearly showed partial units missing significant numbers of tanks, APVs, or other vehicles. Some of the BTGs operating in eastern Ukraine also appeared to be cobbled-together units from remnants of BTGs that served in the failed assault on Kyiv. As Russia continues to press multiple 1 or 2 BTG assaults, rather than large-scale coordinated efforts, it’s very easy for one of these units to be ineffective or easily incapacitated. 

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Thursday, Apr 28, 2022 · 4:14:34 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Bulgaria will be helping Ukraine in another important way — repairing equipment so it can get back in the field. At a Thursday meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister of Bulgaria Kirill Petko, an agreement was reached to actually ship some equipment out of Ukraine to Bulgaria, where it can be repaired and put back into service.

In exchange, Ukraine is promising to increase the supply of gas and electricity it provides to Bulgaria to help compensate for the loss of Russian energy sources. Ukraine also reached an agreement to ship agricultural products — like the wheat and corn being grown in the areas of the country not currently directly threatened by the Russian invasion — through Bulgaria’s Black Sea port at Varna.

Black Sea
Bulgarian port at Varna

By routing wheat across Romania to the Bulgarian port at Varna, Ukraine can get food out to the international market while avoiding the blockade Russia is conducting on Ukrainian ports.

Thursday, Apr 28, 2022 · 4:17:14 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Something underway near Belgorod again. This area has seen Ukrainian helicopters strike two fuel depots, as well as what was a likely artillery hit on a Russian ammo depot.

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Thursday, Apr 28, 2022 · 4:19:31 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

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