Ukrainian officials say a constant stream of Russian military equipment continues to move west from Mariupol to other parts of southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are advancing.
This claim is supported by a recent geo-located video of Russian armored vehicles moving through southern Ukraine.
We continue to record the movement of military equipment through Mariupol,” Piotr Andryushenko, an adviser to the mayor of occupied Mariupol, said on Sunday.
Andryushenko, who is not in Mariupol, said that on Saturday “a large convoy of up to 100 units of military equipment passed through the city in the direction of the Zaporozhye region.” The column included infantry fighting vehicles.
“In addition, a large number of Russian soldiers delivered by KAMAZ trucks settled in the villages of Nikolsky and Mangushsky districts,” two districts west of Mariupol.
Last week, CNN geolocated a large Russian military convoy heading west near the city of Melitopol in the Zaporozhye region.
Photos posted to the Mariupol local community group on July 15 also show Russian military vehicles moving through the city on their way to Berdyansk.
Some independent analysts believe the Russians are moving forces west to potentially support Russian forces on the defensive in Kherson after they came under attack from Ukrainian long-range weapons.
On Sunday, the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, said that a series of explosions had occurred south of the city (in Yakimovka, where Ukrainian saboteurs blew up a railway bridge in April). at least three times this month were hit by long-range Ukrainian artillery.
Fedorov said Russian forces were stepping up pressure on the civilian population of Melitopol by blockading areas and conducting polls.
In such a hell today people live in the temporarily occupied territories. And, of course, [Russians] will use the data they collect for their fake statistics and pseudo-referendums,” Fedorov said.
Fedorov added that about 500 people were stranded at the Russian-controlled checkpoint at Vasylivka, the last remaining checkpoint through which civilians can enter Ukrainian-controlled territory.
In Kherson, where Russian command posts and ammunition depots have come under fire in recent weeks, the Ukrainian Operational Command Yug said that “units of the Russian occupying forces have been massively changing their locations, trying to hide behind the civilian population.”
It claimed that Russian forces had abandoned some bases fearing further strikes and had chosen “new locations in densely populated residential areas, hoping that the Ukrainian Defense Forces would not launch strikes that could pose a threat to local residents.”