Russia is preparing a military parade in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, besieged for weeks, for May 9, the day its victory over Nazi Germany is commemorated, according to Ukrainian intelligence sources on Wednesday.
According to these sources, the deputy director of the Russian presidential administration, Sergueï Kirienko, arrived in Mariupol to prepare this parade.
“The main mission of Putin’s head is to prepare the celebrations of May 9,” explained a statement on the Telegram of these intelligence services, the GUR.
Russian soldier patrols the port of Mariupol on April 29 — Photo: AFP/Andrey Borodulin
Mariupol, a port city, “will become a center of celebrations”, the statement reads. “The city’s main avenues are being urgently cleaned, debris and bodies removed, as well as unexploded ordnance,” it added.
Russian viewers will be able to see “the joy” of Mariupol residents when they see Russians arriving in their city, he added. The May 9 holiday is always celebrated with a grand parade in Moscow’s Red Square.
Russia attacks Mariupol steel plant in Ukraine all day
According to the GUR, “a large-scale propaganda campaign is underway” among the city’s population, which is now between 100,000 and 120,000 people, down from half a million before the war.
The Russian Defense Minister, responding to a question about preparations for May 9, did not mention the possibility of a parade in Mariupol.
“This year, military parades will be held in 28 Russian cities,” he said, detailing that “about 65,000 people, 2,400 types of weapons and military equipment and more than 460 planes will be mobilized.”
Mariupol is practically under the control of the Russian army. Only the large Azovstal industrial complex, where the last Ukrainian and civilian fighters are entrenched, escapes Moscow’s military control.
On Tuesday, a Ukrainian commander of the Azov battalion, which defends the steelworks, said Russian troops had launched an attack on the industrial plant, information that Moscow denied on Wednesday.