Ukrainian soldier attempted to flee Mariupol in women’s clothing (VIDEO)

Ukrainian soldier Mariupol

The battle for the Greek-founded port city of Mariupol has become a major focal point of the war, with as many as 15,000 Ukrainian troops and National Guard fighters, including the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, battling against the Russian military and Donetsk separatists.

Up to 150,000 civilians also remain trapped in areas controlled by Ukrainian forces and as much as 80% of the city has been destroyed by Russian bombardments.

“Well, for one thing, they are hiding behind civilians. And secondly, as we evacuate civilians, they try to escape disguised as civilians, to our side here, to blend in somewhere and get away,” Donetsk People’s Militia battalion commander Oleg Kokarev said.

“Today one even made me laugh. He was dressed like Papadopoulos, you know from the movie [Wedding in Malinovka], in a woman’s fur coat with a big white pile and women’s shoes and a dress,” the commander said.

“And he swore that he is a civilian, that he lives here. Well, you could tell by looking at him that he is a fighter,” the commander added.

“Our boys do a good, nice job. So, victory is ours, we will win,” Kokarev concluded.

Mariupol was estimated to have had as many as 400,000 residents before the fighting began, with Donetsk People’s Republic head Denis Pushilin saying Wednesday that 150,000 civilians remain trapped in the city in areas controlled by nationalist formations.

Russian and separatist troops are said to control about half of the city.

On Tuesday, the Russian military called the humanitarian situation in the city “catastrophic,” and said that over 68,000 people had evacuated from the conflict zone without the Ukrainian government’s involvement.

READ MORE: Who is the Pontian Greek fighting in Mariupol against the Azov Battalion? 

Since the bombardment of Mariupol began on February 24, Ukrainian officials estimate that 2,500 people have been killed and many more wounded.

Russian shelling is turning the southern city into the “ashes of a dead land”, the city council said on Tuesday.

In a video address to Italy’s parliament, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there was “nothing left” in the city following the Russian bombardment.

READ MORE: Why is Russia desperate to capture Mariupol? The plan to unite Crimea with Donbass.

Up to 120,000 Greeks live in port city and its surrounding towns and villages, including Sartana.

In the town of Sartana, which is less than 20 kilometres from Mariupol, live today about 8,000 Greeks.

Historical sources say Catherine the Great wanted to direct the Greek population from the Crimea to the current region.

This was a Greek population that developed from 1779 onwards in Mariupol, Sartanas and 23 other Greek-speaking villages, constituting a purely Greek island within the administrative boundaries of today’s Ukraine.

In fact, the famous decree of 1779, which was signed by Catherine the Great, which is located in the Folklore Museum of Mariupol, included, along with the transportation of the Greek population, special privileges for the encouragement of agriculture, fisheries, trade and industry.

The pioneer of the relocation was Archbishop Ignatius, and about 19,000 Greeks moved with him.

After their establishment, in 1807, Mariupol and the surrounding Greek villages were recognised as an independent administrative unit, with an exclusively Greek population.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Greek village of Sartana: The persecutions, the war and the thirst for Greek education (PHOTOS).