The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukrainian soldiers surrendered at the Azovstal industrial complex on Tuesday. The steel mill was the last point of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol.
Kiev did not confirm the information, released by the Russian news agency RIA and which could mean the Russians take full control of the city in the south of the country.
The Russian ministry also said that it had opened a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of those soldiers who “voluntarily laid down their weapons”.
According to local reports, in addition to the soldiers resisting in Azovstal, another thousand civilians have taken refuge inside the complex.
Russian army leaders have already given an ultimatum to Ukrainian troops tonight. According to Russian information, they would have up to 12:00h from Moscow (6:00h from Brasilia) to deliver the site.
Earlier, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region said that Moscow would take over Mariupol later this Tuesday.
During a speech on Indian TV, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the country is at a new stage of the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.
“Another stage of this operation (in eastern Ukraine) is starting and I’m sure this will be a very important moment of this whole special operation,” said Lavrov.
Russian minister talks about new phase of operation in Ukraine
Russian troops carried out 1,260 attacks on Ukrainian soil in the early hours of Tuesday. The number is four times greater than the attacks recorded on Monday (18) also by the Russian government.
The vast majority of these attacks took place in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow is trying to take over cities. One of them, that of Kreminna. Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed that all the bombings were carried out on Ukrainian military targets, but Kiev accuses Russian troops of deliberately attacking civilian sites.
The increase in the offensive reflects a new phase of the war in which Moscow is trying to take full control of Mariupol and the Donbass region in the east.