THE Russia gave an ultimatum this Sunday to the last Ukrainians who still defend the city of Mariupol, demanding that the soldiers surrender and leave the city. Mariupol, which is already practically taken over by Putin’s army, is a strategic point in the south-east of Ukraine and its conquest would represent an important victory for Moscow.
Russian forces also announced they had bombed another military factory on the outskirts of Kiev on Sunday as attacks intensified around the Ukrainian capital following the destruction of the Moskva, Russia’s largest warship, in the Black Sea.
Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky said Saturday night that the situation in Mariupol was “inhumane”, while Russia said it was in control of almost the entire city. Zelensky stressed that there are only “two options”: the supply by Western countries of “all the necessary weapons” to break the long siege of Mariupol or “the path of negotiation”, in which the role of the allies must be equally decisive.
Zelensky’s statements coincided with a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry, which urged the last Ukrainian soldiers, entrenched in a huge metallurgical complex in Mariupol, to abandon the fight and surrender.
Last soldiers of the resistance
“All those who abandon their weapons will be guaranteed to save their lives (…) It is their only chance,” the Russian ministry said on Telegram, assuring that the metallurgical complex is the last focus of resistance in the Ukrainian city. In the early hours of Sunday, Ukraine said the Russians had bombed the city and “carried out assault operations near the port”, not to mention the Russian ultimatum.
Mariupol, with a population of 440,000 before the war, is a crucial target for Moscow and the last obstacle to securing Russian control of the sea strip from the pro-Russian separatist Donbas territories to the Crimea.
Redirect the campaign
While it has redirected its military campaign to the east and south, Russia has resumed bombing the capital in recent days following the sinking of its ship in the Dead Sea, the cruiser Moskva, which Ukraine claims hit with Neptune missiles. Moscow denies this version and attributes the sinking to a fire caused by an explosion of ammunition on board.
Sunday’s attack on a military factory near Kiev was preceded on Friday by the bombing of a factory also near the capital where the Neptune missiles were produced. On Saturday, Russia attacked an industrial complex producing tanks also nearby, killing one person and hospitalizing several.
In the east, where the next major battle of this war is expected, Russian forces attacked an oil refinery four kilometers from Lisichansk and continued bombing cities like Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city.
In the south, in the Odessa region, Russia claimed to have shot down “in mid-air a Ukrainian military transport plane that was delivering a large batch of weapons supplied to Ukraine by Western countries”, the Defense Ministry said. Although not directly involved in the conflict, NATO members have provided extensive arms support to Ukraine, which increases as the war progresses.
Russia warned in a diplomatic note to the United States against sending “more sensitive” weapons to Ukraine, which put “fuel on fire” and could cause “unpredictable consequences”, according to The Washington Post. Even so, Zelensky multiplies his requests for military deployments, while insisting on Russia’s possible use of nuclear weapons. We need “medicines” [contra a radiação]bomb shelters,” he told Ukrainian media.
About 5 million people have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24, according to the UN, which says a further 40,200 refugees have left their country in the past 24 hours.