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Azovstal Iron and Steel Works and Russian Government Approaches Russian Academia in Netherlands

April 28 - May 4, 2022 | Issue 6 - EUCOM

Benjamin Brooks, Pètra van de Gevel, EUCOM Team

Justin Maurina, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff



Damaged vehicles at a destroyed part of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works[1]



Date: May 2, 2022

Location: Mariupol, Ukraine

Parties involved: Russia; Russian forces; Russian controlled territories in Ukraine of Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk, Ukraine; Ukrainian forces; Ukrainian citizens; Ukrainian steel rolling company Azovstal Iron and Steel Works; International aid groups; United Nations; International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The event: Russian forces continue to attack Mariupol and have resumed attacks on the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works despite citizens using it as shelter. While hundreds of Ukrainian citizens evacuated the site, some were unable to escape due to continued bombardment, delaying rescue efforts from the UN and the ICRC.[2] The Azovstal plant is the last site in Mariupol still under Ukrainian control.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The bombings will very likely destroy the steelworks and almost certainly result in the deaths of the civilians sheltering inside. International aid groups will very likely struggle to reach the inner city of Mariupol and provide aid to civilians, almost certainly increasing total casualties. This will likely further encourage civilians in the south of Ukraine to flee their homes to avoid Russian bombardments, very likely increasing the number of Ukrainian refugees to Ukrainian-controlled cities, such as Zaporizhzhia.

  • Russia will almost certainly continue launching attacks on the steelworks to seize the plant and take complete control of Mariupol. Russia almost certainly wants to limit Ukrainian access to the Black Sea and establish a land corridor between its other controlled areas in Ukraine, such as Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk. This will almost certainly result in Russia controlling most of the Black Sea coastline, almost certainly affecting Ukraine’s economy as it will halt international trade.

  • The Azovstal plant remaining under Ukrainian control will almost certainly increase the Ukrainian force’s morale. The plant will very likely become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance and will likely inspire foreign fighters to join the protection of the plant. Russian propaganda will almost certainly deny any accusation of failure at Mariupol and will likely focus on other successfully defeated cities.


Date: May 3, 2022

Location: The Netherlands

Parties involved: The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD); Russian students living in the Netherlands; Russian government representatives; Russian forces; Ukraine; Ukrainian journalists and civil rights activists; Western countries

The event: The AIVD confirmed that Russian government representatives approached Russian students and professors living in the Netherlands via phone. The callers asked about their loyalty and whether they support Ukraine or Russia in the current conflict. The AIVD stated that they were likely approached because Russians in the Netherlands have free media access and communication with family and friends living in Russia.[4] Russia implemented strict controls on what its population is allowed to see, read, and hear concerning the war in Ukraine.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The Russian government very likely wants to deter Russians living in the Netherlands from speaking out about the conflict. The calls will very likely result in them becoming fearful of sharing news with their family and friends that contradict reports from Russian media outlets. Russia almost certainly wants to limit outside reporting to maintain the population’s support for the military operation in Ukraine and prevent a popular uprising. Russia will almost certainly continue to intimidate Russians living in Western countries with access to independent media outlets, very likely increasing fear among targeted individuals.

  • The Russian government will very likely use other tactics, such as abductions, to instill fear among Ukrainian civilians living in Russian-controlled regions in Ukraine who are vocal against the Russian invasion. Russian forces will very likely detain Ukrainian journalists and civil rights activists, likely to convince them to stop negatively reporting the conflict. Individuals living in these areas will likely be under increasing danger as Russia likely intends to exert control, likely increasing the number of abductions.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1] ‘’Russia Ukraine War - Loss and horror during week of burials and tears’’ by manhhai licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Russia attacking Mariupol steelworks after evacuations, says Ukraine commander, BBC News, May 2022, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-61296851

[3] Russia shells Mariupol plant with civilians still reported trapped, Reuters, May 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-says-it-started-shelling-azovstal-plant-after-ukraine-took-advantage-2022-05-03/

[4] Russians in the Netherlands are intimidated by calls to ask about ‘loyalty’, Dutch News, May 2022, https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2022/05/russians-in-the-netherlands-are-intimidated-by-calls-to-ask-about-loyalty/

[5] Here's how propaganda is clouding Russians' understanding of the war in Ukraine, NPR, March 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/03/15/1086705796/russian-propaganda-war-in-ukraine?t=1651616006367

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