Russia ordered Ukrainian forces fighting in Mariupol that they lay down arms Sunday morning in order to save their lives. However, there were no immediate reports of activity just two hours after the ultimatum was issued at 0300 GMT in the strategically southeastern port.
Early in the morning, sirens sounded throughout the country. This is a common occurrence. A morning report from Ukraine’s military stated that Russian air strikes on Mariupol were continuing while there was “assault operation near the seaport.”
Local media did not provide details but reported that there was an explosion in Kyiv.
According to Russia’s Defence Ministry, its troops have cleared Mariupol’s urban area. Only a few Ukrainian fighters were left in a huge steelwork on Saturday.
Moscow’s claim that it has all but taken over Mariupol, the scene of the worst fighting and humanitarian catastrophes of World War II, cannot be independently verified. This would mark the first time that a major city has fallen to Russian forces after the February 24 invasion.
“The Russian Armed Forces offer the militants and foreign mercenaries of the Azovstal metalurgical plant from 06:00 Moscow time on April 17, 2022 to cease hostilities and drop their arms,” the defense ministry stated in a statement.
It stated that “All who lay down arms are guaranteed that they will be spared”, and that the defenders could leave at 10 a.m. with no arms or ammunition.
Kyiv did not immediately respond.
Azovstal is described as a fortress within a city. It lies in an industrial area overlooking the Sea of Azov. It covers over 11 kilometres (4.25 miles) and contains numerous buildings, blast furnaces, and rail tracks.
Ukrainian marines, motorised brigades and a National Guard brigade are some of the city’s defenders. The Azov Regiment was a militia that far-right nationalists created, which was later integrated into the National Guard. It wasn’t immediately clear how many were working in the steelworks.
According to President Volodymyr Zilenskiy, “The situation in Mariupol is very difficult”. “Our soldiers and wounded are being blocked. There is a humanitarian emergency… The guys are still defending themselves.”
Moscow claimed that its warplanes struck a Kyiv tank repair plant on Saturday as it launched long-range missile strikes across the country after the sinking its Black Sea flagship. A loud explosion was heard, and smoke rose above the Darnytskyi area. According to the mayor, at least one person was injured and medics tried to save others.
According to the Ukrainian military, Russian warplanes had taken off from Belarus and fired missiles at Lviv near the Polish border. Four cruise missiles were also shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.
This western city has been relatively unaffected so far and serves as refuge for international aid agencies and refugees.
Journalists reached Mariupol to see the massive Illich steelworks. This was one of two metals plants that defenders had escaped from underground tunnels or bunkers. Moscow claimed to have taken it on Friday.
The factory was reduced to a ruins of twisted steel, blasted concrete and no sign of defenders. Numerous bodies of civilians were found scattered along nearby streets.
According to RIA news agency, the Russian defense ministry claimed that its troops had “completely cleared Mariupol’s urban areas of Ukrainian forces” and “blocked the Azovstal steelworks “remnants”. According to it, the Ukrainian forces had lost over 4,000 personnel as of Saturday.
Zelenskiy said Russia was “deliberately trying destroy everyone” in Mariupol, and that his government was in contact with the defenders. Moscow’s claim that Ukrainian troops are no longer present in urban areas was not addressed by Zelenskiy.
According to the governor of Kharkiv, in the east, at least one person was injured and at least one was killed in a missile strike. The smoke billowed from the burning cars, and the remains of an office building were visible in the city.
Russia claimed it had hit a factory for military vehicle repairs in Mykolaiv, close to the southern front.
These attacks came after Russia announced on Friday that it would intensify long range strikes as a retaliation to unspecified acts “sabotage and terrorist” hours after it confirmed its Black Sea flagship, Moskva, was sinking.
Washington and Kyiv claim that the Ukrainian missiles struck the ship. Moscow claims it was destroyed by a fire, and that its 500 crew members were evacuated.
Russia’s Defence Ministry published video footage of Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov (head of the navy), meeting with around a hundred sailors.
It would be Russia’s largest prize in the war if Mariupol fell. It is the main port in the Donbas region, which includes two provinces located in the southeast. Moscow wants them to give it over completely to separatists.
Ukraine claims it has held off Russian advances in the Donbas region of Donetsk or Luhansk. At least one person was also killed by shelling overnight. R
In the initial phase of war, Ukraine won the upper hand by successfully mobilizing mobile units equipped with anti-tank missiles from the West against Russian armoured convoys that were confined to roads through muddy terrain.
Putin seems determined to seize more Donbas territory in order to claim victory in a conflict that has made Russia increasingly vulnerable to Western sanctions and left it with very few allies.
According to Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, banks will be targeted by the next round of sanctions against Russia.
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