Battle of Melitopol

battle in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Battle of Melitopol
Part of the Southern Ukraine offensive and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Battle of Melitopol (February 2022).svg
Date25 February – 1 March 2022
(4 days)
Location
Status Russian victory
Belligerents
 Russia  Ukraine
Units involved
 Russian Armed Forces  Ukrainian Armed Forces
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The battle of Melitopol was a military engagement between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Armed Forces of Russia in the city of Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. It was part of the Southern Ukraine offensive of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces attacked the city on 25 February, and captured it after heavy fighting by 1 March. After the battle ended, citizens held street protests against the military occupation. On 11 March, the city mayor was arrested by Russian troops for refusing to cooperate, but later released on 16 March in exchange for 9 Russian prisoners.

Background

Melitopol is the second largest city in Zaporizhzhia Oblast (region) after its capital, Zaporizhzhia. It is situated on the Molochna River that flows through the eastern edge of the city and into the Molochnyi Lyman, which eventually joins the Sea of Azov. Its population is approximately 150,768 (2021 est.)[1].

The city is located at the crossing of two major European highways, and there is also an electrified railway line of international importance that goes through the city. It was called "the gateway to the Crimea;” prior to the 2014 Russian occupation of Crimea 80% of passenger trains heading to the peninsula passed through the city and during summer road traffic would reach 45,000 vehicles per day.

Control of the city would allow Russian troops to advance towards Berdiansk and then to Mariupol, which would establish a land connection linking Crimea and the Donetsk People's Republic.

Battle

At 10:30 on 25 February 2022, Russian forces reportedly entered Melitopol amid heavy clashes.[2] According to the governor of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Oleksandr Starukh, shells hit apartment buildings and intense street fighting occurred, with images of military equipment on Lomonosov Street emerging online and locals giving eyewitness accounts of fighting. Private houses in the area of Pishchanska Street were damaged.[3]

Later in the morning, an armoured attack occurred that resulted in a fire and left vehicle trails in the streets as well as burnt cars.[4] According to unofficial sources, the local city council offices were shelled and a screenshot of camera footage showed tanks rolling onto the city's main street.[5][6] During the battle, Russian forces reportedly fired at a hospital, specifically an oncology centre, in the city, killing four people and injuring 10 others.[7]

The city's leadership reportedly surrendered Melitopol later on 25 February, with Russian forces occupying the city.[8] However, Ukrainian forces later launched a counterattack on the city, with locals reporting volleys of shelling and tanks with Russian national flags in the streets.[9] Russia claimed on 26 February that it had taken the city,[10] though James Heappey, the British Armed Forces Minister, said that it was still under Ukrainian control.[11]

Later on 26 February, Russian forces raised Russian flags on administrative buildings in the city. Starukh stated that clashes still continued in the city, with firefights reported with local defense forces.[12][13][14] He also stated that fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continued overnight, with 14 Ukrainian soldiers wounded. According to the mayor, Ivan Fedorov, utilities were disrupted and he confirmed the local oncology clinic had been damaged.[15]

On 27 February, Russian troops shelled areas in and around the city. Citizens reported hearing gunfire in some areas of the city around 5:00 a.m. and, reportedly, squads of 150 people had been established to patrol the streets at night to "combat" mass looting.[16] The following day, 28 February, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Zaporizhzhia Oblast stated that Russian airstrikes and shelling had damaged buildings of an emergency rescue unit, destroying some rescue equipment.[17] Local self-defense forces were able to recapture the city hall building during the day, with mayor Ivan Fedorov saying that Russian troops had destroyed much of the building when it was initially captured. Reports of mass looting of retail stores continued.[18]

On 1 March, after a brief reprieve, Russian forces began preparing to resume their attack on Melitopol and other cities.[19] The mayor later stated that Melitopol had "not surrendered" but Russian forces had successfully occupied the city. Fedorov also highlighted the humanitarian situation in the city, saying people had problems withdrawing money from banks and he urged citizens to ration their supplies as issues replenishing stocks of gasoline, diesel fuel, gas, as well as food and medicines had yet to be resolved.[20] A United States Department of Defense official also confirmed that Melitopol had been recaptured by Russian forces.[21]

Aftermath

After the fall of the city, Melitopol came under a Russian military occupation.[22] Multiple protests occurred during the Russian occupation of the city.

On 13 March, the Melitopol City Council declared that, "The occupying troops of the Russian Federation are trying to illegally create an occupation administration of the city of Melitopol."[23] It appealed to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova, to launch a pre-trial investigation into Danilchenko and her party Opposition Bloc for treason.[23] Ukrayinska Pravda reported that the Russian military had abducted Melitopol's District Council Chairman Serhiy Priyma and had tried to abduct City Council Secretary Roman Romanov.[24] Meanwhile, Russian military vehicles were seen announcing via loudspeakers that rallies and demonstrations had been prohibited and that a curfew was imposed from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ Чисельність наявного населення України на 1 січня 2021 / Number of Present Population of Ukraine, as of January 1, 2021 (PDF) (in Ukrainian and English). Kyiv: State Statistics Service of Ukraine.
  2. ^ Sicard, Sarah (25 February 2022). "Live updates from Russia's massive Ukraine invasion". Army Times. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  3. ^ "У Мелітополі гримлять вуличні бої: снаряди руйнують житлові будинки, люди ховаються у сховищах (відео)". Focus (in Ukrainian). Focus. 25 February 2022. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  4. ^ Sinistin, Mikita (25 February 2022). "Над Мелітополем українські прапори, але ситуація тяжка: що відбувається у місті (фото, відео)". Telegraf (in Ukrainian). Telegraf. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  5. ^ Komendantova, Nadezhda (25 February 2022). "У Мелітополі російські танки. Окупанти розстрілюють будівлю СБУ та Нацполіції". Ukranews (in Ukrainian). Ukranews. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  6. ^ "В Мелітополі російські танки розстрілюють будівлі Нацполіції і СБУ (Відео)". ASPI (in Ukrainian). ASPI News. 25 February 2022. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  7. ^ Thrower, Antony (25 February 2022). "Ukrainian cancer centre left in flames as hospital site attacked by Russians". mirror. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  8. ^ "Russia Ukraine news: Melitopol city is taken by the Russian army". MARCA. 24 February 2022. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  9. ^ "В Мелитополе опять идут бои – взрывы и стрельба в разных районах города". Актуальные новости Мелитополя и региона – Местные вести (in Russian). Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  10. ^ McLaughlin, Daniel. "Ukraine invasion: Russia says it has captured city of Melitopol as Kyiv is struck by missiles". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Ukrainian city of Melitopol not in Russian hands, British minister says". Reuters. 26 February 2022. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  12. ^ "Губернатор рассказал о ситуации в Запорожской области – серьезнее всего в Мелитополе". ria-m.tv. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  13. ^ "Российские оккупанты развесили свои тряпки на зданиях администрации (фото)". ria-m.tv. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  14. ^ "В Мелитополе войска РФ уже расстреливают мирных людей (фото, видео)". ria-m.tv. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  15. ^ "Запоріжжя: повітряна тривога вночі, бої за Мелітополь та російська колона під Приморськом". Radio Svoboda (in Ukrainian). 26 February 2022. Archived from the original on 27 February 2022. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  16. ^ Marina Korobova (28 February 2022). "Как Мелитополь встретил утро понедельника, 28 февраля". Mestnyye Vesti (in Russian). Archived from the original on 28 February 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  17. ^ Marina Korobova (28 February 2022). "Как Мелитополь встретил утро понедельника, 28 февраля". Mestnyye Vesti (in Russian). Archived from the original on 28 February 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  18. ^ "Запоріжжя: росіяни на в'їздах у Енергодар та мітинги проти них у Бердянську". Radio Svoboda (in Ukrainian). 28 February 2022. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  19. ^ Anastasia Zadorozhnaya (1 March 2022). "Войска оккупанта готовят наступление на Мелитополь". Mestnyye Vesti (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  20. ^ Marina Korobova (1 March 2022). ""Мелитополь не сдался, Мелитополь – временно оккупирован" – городской голова о ситуации на 1 марта". Mestnyye Vesti (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  21. ^ "Some Russians surrender but situation remains grave - US". BBC News. Archived from the original on 6 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  22. ^ "Shots Fired In Ukrainian City As Locals Protest Against Russian Occupation". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2 March 2022. Archived from the original on 5 March 2022. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  23. ^ a b "Міськрада Мелітополя називає в.о мера від окупантів державною зрадницею". Українська правда (in Ukrainian). 13 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  24. ^ "У Мелітополі триває терор: окупанти викрали голову райради". Українська правда (in Ukrainian). 13 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  25. ^ "Окупанти заборонили мелітопольцям мітинги, ті відповіли традиційно: агресор - нах#й". Українська правда (in Ukrainian). 13 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
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