DThe Russian military again called on the Ukrainian defenders of the heavily contested port city of Mariupol to surrender. Given the “catastrophic situation” at the Azovstal steel plant, trapped Ukrainian fighters and “foreign mercenaries” are offered to cease hostilities and lay down their arms on Sunday from 6:00 a.m. Moscow time (5:00 a.m. CET) , said a source in the night Statement by Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev of the Russian Ministry of Defense published on Sunday.
The lives of those who laid down their arms are guaranteed, the attackers said. According to information from Moscow, the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is now almost entirely under Russian control.
Russian ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov announced on Saturday that all remaining Ukrainian fighters had meanwhile holed up in the Azovstal steelworks. There was no information from kyiv.
At 6 a.m. Moscow time on Sunday, according to the statement, Russian units are expected to raise red flags and on the Ukrainian side white flags over the entire steel plant area as a sign of observance of the ceasefire. After confirmation of readiness on previously established communication channels, from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Moscow time, all Ukrainian units could leave the area without weapons and ammunition.
At the same time, Mizintsev called on “all” servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to lay down their arms. The Russian Federation guarantees everyone his life and compliance with all the norms of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on Western partners to use heavy weapons in the battle for Mariupol or support negotiations to end the blockade.
“Either our partners give Ukraine all the necessary heavy weapons, planes, and without exaggeration, immediately, so that we can ease the pressure of the occupier on Mariupol and break the blockade,” he said on Saturday. in his nightly video address to the nation. “Or we do it through negotiations, in which the role of our partners should be crucial.”
Along with defending Ukrainian troops, tens of thousands of civilians are trapped in the Sea port city of Azov, which has been under siege for weeks. The situation in the city is inhuman and Russia is “deliberately trying to destroy everyone there”, Zelenskyy said.
He tied the fate of the city to any negotiations to end the war. “The destruction of our people in Mariupol – what they are doing now – can mean the end of any format of negotiations,” Zelenskyy said in an interview on Saturday.
His presidential office called the situation in Mariupol critical. The defenders resisted the Russian attackers, he added. With the capture of Mariupol, Russian troops would control a land link between the annexed Crimean peninsula and the pro-Russian separatist areas of Donbass.
In fact, the first elements of the latest US arms and ammunition support program have already arrived in Ukraine. This was reported by CNN television on Sunday night, citing a White House official. Washington on Wednesday promised kyiv additional arms and ammunition worth up to $800 million (740 million euros), including artillery, armored vehicles and helicopters.
The new deliveries are intended to support Ukraine, especially given the feared large-scale Russian attack in the eastern Donbass region. The US government has already pledged or delivered arms worth $2.5 billion to Ukraine since the start of the Russian aggression war in late February. Since the beginning of last year, US aid to Kyiv has amounted to about $3.2 billion.
Russia recently sent protest notes to several Western countries, including the United States, regarding arms shipments to Ukraine. According to the American newspaper Washington Post, Moscow warned in the letter that such deliveries could have “unforeseeable consequences”.
Von der Leyen also calls for more weapons for Ukraine
Nevertheless, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on EU countries to quickly deliver arms to Ukraine. “For all member states, those who can must deliver quickly, because only then can Ukraine survive in its acute defensive struggle against Russia,” said von der Leyen of “Bild am Sonntag”. . “I don’t differentiate between heavy and light weapons. Ukraine needs to get what it needs to defend itself and what it can handle.
The President of the European Commission has prepared European citizens for a long military conflict: “We must do everything to end it as soon as possible. And at the same time, we have to be prepared for the fact that, in the worst case, the war could last for months or even years.
On the key points of a sixth EU sanctions package against Russia, which is currently in the works, she said: “We continue to look at the banking sector, in particular Sberbank, which alone accounts for 37% of the Russian banking sector. And of course, it’s about energy issues. ” The main objective is to reduce Putin’s income.
“But oil is traded globally. What shouldn’t happen is Putin charging even higher prices in other markets for supplies that would otherwise go to the EU. That is why we are currently developing smart mechanisms so that oil can also be included in the next stage of sanctions.
Von der Leyen defended the German government against allegations that it was slowing down sanctions. “Germany has supported Ukraine for many years and approved the five sanctions packages we proposed within 48 hours. The EU has never acted as united, determined and energetic as it does today. Germany has its part in this,” she said.
Meanwhile, after two weeks of relative calm, Russian forces have also stepped up airstrikes on kyiv. On Saturday, they attacked, among other things, a tank factory in the Ukrainian capital. The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Telegram that the factory’s production buildings were destroyed during the bombardment with “high-precision long-range weapons”. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person was killed and several others injured in the blasts.
Russian troops had already attacked a weapons complex near the capital on Friday which, according to the website of the state-owned weapons company Ukroboronprom, produced “Neptune” rockets. The Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which sank on Thursday, was the target of such missiles, according to Ukrainian sources. Moscow did not confirm this information and said that munitions had exploded on board the ship.
On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video purporting to show suspected survivors of the sinking meeting with the Navy chief. The ministry also said it shot down a Ukrainian transport plane carrying weapons supplied by Western countries in the Odessa region.
Meanwhile, in the east’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, Ukrainian authorities reported that at least two people were killed and 18 others injured in a Russian missile attack on a residential area. Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky also said three engineers were killed and four others were seriously injured during mine clearance in the area.
Again many people evacuated
According to Ukrainian reports, around 1,450 people from disputed parts of the country were brought to safety on Saturday. About 1,380 people have arrived in the city of Zaporizhia from several towns in the south and east of the country, including 170 from the hotly contested port city of Mariupol, the president’s office announced on Telegram on Saturday.
68 people were taken from three towns in the Luhansk region “under constant fire”. An evacuation of the town of Lysychansk in the region was foiled due to “heavy shelling”.
There are also escape routes to Russia. Moscow said on Saturday that “despite the obstacles caused by Kyiv”, around 15,800 people had been evacuated to Russia from dangerous parts of Ukraine and from Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 24 hours without the intervention of Ukrainian authorities.
Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of sabotaging the flight of civilians through the so-called humanitarian corridors that are being set up every day. Moscow recently said it would focus its combat operations on eastern Ukraine.