The Ukrainian military has repeatedly delivered ammunition, communications and medicine to Mariupol.
Crews of Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopters, flying twice and once every four, overcame the dense defenses of russian air defense and enemy aircraft concentrated in and around Mariupol to deliver much-needed supplies and fresh forces to the defenders of the besieged Azovstal metallurgical plant.
Of the 16 helicopters involved, two were destroyed, GUR chairman Kirill Budanov told The War Zone.
“The special operation was planned and conducted by the military intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine”, – Budanov said, giving previously undisclosed details of these dangerous missions.
For almost three months, Ukrainian forces dug up a large steel plant that was constantly bombarded by Russian troops. But as their supplies of food, water, medicine and ammunition ran out, and the number of seriously injured grew, so did the desperation of asking for help.
“All deliveries were successful”, – Budanov said. But during the 5th and 7th flights, two helicopters were shot down. According to Budanov, the third helicopter that came to the rescue was also destroyed.
He did not specify the data on the victims.
Although Budanov said 7 helicopters had successfully delivered aid, it was not enough to prevent a possible Russian seizure of the plant, the last source of resistance in the key seaport of Mariupol.
Oleksiy Gromov, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, noted that the Armed Forces of Ukraine had repeatedly delivered ammunition, communications and medicines to Mariupol.
But these deliveries, he said, “were possible before the spread of information about aid. As a result, the enemy took measures to strengthen the air defense system, which made it difficult for us to carry out such actions and led to the loss of personnel and helicopters evacuating the wounded”.
According to the founder of “Azov” Andriy Biletsky, the special operation of the air breakthrough was planned and conducted under the auspices of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Biletsky himself organized the landing. Thanks to a special operation, 72 Azov fighters were transported by helicopters to strengthen the city’s defenses.