According to the Kyiv government, the remaining Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol will not surrender even after a Russian ultimatum expires.
The last defenders of the strategically important port city “will fight until the end”, Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal told ABC television on Sunday. Russia had given Ukrainian fighters until Sunday noon to lay down their arms and leave the city.
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The Russian army claims to have taken control of Mariupol after weeks of fighting. According to the report, around 400 Ukrainian fighters were still at the Azovstal steelworks in the port city. “No, the city did not fall,” Schmyhal pointed out on ABC. “Our armed forces, our soldiers are still there. They will fight until the end. As I speak to you, they are still in Mariupol.”
Russia had threatened the remaining Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol with death if the ultimatum was ignored. “Their only chance to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday. “In case of further resistance, they will all be destroyed.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly said he wants to do everything to save the strategically important city. He demanded tanks and other heavy weapons from the west to defend eastern Ukraine. Mariupol is in the Donetsk region, which pro-Russian separatists want to take full control with Russian help.
Air raids on Mariupol continue
According to Ukrainian sources, the Russian military continued its airstrikes on the heavily contested port city of Mariupol. This was announced on Sunday by the Ukrainian General Staff in its situation report. Attacks also took place in the port area, he added. According to President Zelenskyy, the situation is extremely serious. In a video message on Sunday evening, he accused Moscow of deliberately trying to eliminate everyone in Mariupol. There are only two ways to influence the situation in the city.
Either Ukraine’s partner countries immediately provided all the necessary heavy weapons, including aircraft, to ease the pressure on Mariupol and unblock the city. The second track is a negotiation track in which the partners must also play a significant role.
Mariupol has been surrounded since early March. The fighting and shelling that lasted over a month and a half devastated the city and killed an unknown number of civilians. In recent days, Russian troops have advanced towards the center.
The use of Tu-22M supersonic bombers by Russian forces in the attack on the Azovstal factory may indicate an intention to end the battle soon by using firepower to annihilate the remaining Ukrainian fighters, l American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in its recent analysis of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy: Moscow’s actions in Mariupol could end peace talks
Zelenskyi threatened Russia with ending peace talks if Ukrainian militants were killed in the port city of Mariupol. “The annihilation of our guys in Mariupol, what they are doing (…) could put an end to any form of negotiations,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with local media on the Internet. Selenskyj described the situation in Mariupol in a video message as “inhuman”.
According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, developments in Mariupol could become a red line for negotiations with Russia. The situation in the port city is dire, Kuleba told CBS News. The Minister explains that there has recently been no diplomatic contact between the Foreign Ministries in Moscow and Kyiv.
The head of the Russian parliament Vyacheslav Volodin accused Zelenskyj on Sunday of not moving at all in the negotiations. He stressed that Ukraine must give up its Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin had recognized as independent states.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has called on Russia to open evacuation corridors for civilians from Mariupol. A “humanitarian corridor” must be created especially for women and children, she writes in the Messenger service Telegram.
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Ukraine accuses Russia of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities. Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Federov stressed that his country is currently collecting all evidence of Russian atrocities. “We will hand everything over to The Hague,” he said, referring to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is already investigating alleged war crimes in Ukraine. “There will be no impunity.”
Since the withdrawal of Russian armed forces from the greater kyiv region, the fighting has increasingly shifted to southern and eastern Ukraine. Experts assume that Russia wants to announce the victory in the Ukrainian Donbass by May 9, symbolically extremely important. Faced with fears of a major Russian offensive in the Donbass regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, the Ukrainian authorities have for days been calling on residents to flee to the west.
Planned evacuation routes remained closed on Sunday. Vereshchuk explained that it was not possible to reach an agreement with the Russian “occupiers” on a ceasefire for the region. According to Ukrainian sources, more than 50 people were killed in a deadly attack on Ukrainian refugees at Kramatorsk train station in early April. (dpa, AFP)