Ukrainian officials say a steady stream of Russian military equipment continues to move west from Mariupol to other parts of southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are on the offensive.
The claim is backed up by recently geotagged video of Russian armor moving through parts of southern Ukraine.
We continue to record movements of military equipment through Mariupol,” Petro Andriushenko, adviser to the mayor of occupied Mariupol, said on Sunday.
Andriushenko, who is not in Mariupol, said “a large convoy of up to 100 units of military equipment passed through the city towards the Zaporizhzhia region” on Saturday. The column included infantry fighting vehicles.
“In addition, a large number of Russian soldiers, brought by KAMAZ trucks, settled in the villages of Nikolske and Manhush districts” – two districts west of Mariupol.
Last week, CNN geolocated a large Russian military convoy heading west near the town of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Photographs posted to a local community group in Mariupol on July 15 also appeared to show Russian military vehicles moving through the city towards Berdyansk.
Some independent analysts believe the Russians are potentially moving forces west to support Russian forces that are on the defensive in Kherson after being attacked by Ukrainian long-range weapons.
On Sunday, Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, said there had been several explosions south of the city (in Yakymivka – where Ukrainian saboteurs blew up a railway bridge in April.) He gave no explanation , but Russian bases in the region have been hit by long-range Ukrainian artillery at least three times this month.
Fedorov said Russian forces were increasing pressure on the civilian population in Melitopol, closing neighborhoods and carrying out questionnaires.
The inhabitants of the temporarily occupied territories today live in such a hell. And of course the [Russians] will use the data they collect for their fake statistics and pseudo-referendums,” Federov said.
Fedorov added that some 500 people were stranded at the Russian-controlled checkpoint at Vasylivka, the last remaining crossing point for civilians to reach Ukrainian-held territory.
In Kherson, where Russian command posts and ammunition depots have been attacked in recent weeks, the Southern Ukrainian Operational Command said that “units of the Russian occupation forces (have) massively changed their deployment points , trying to hide behind the civilian population”.
He said Russian forces abandoned some bases for fear of further strikes and chose “new deployment locations in densely populated residential areas, hoping that Ukrainian defense forces will not carry out strikes that could pose a threat to civilians.” local residents”.