- Surrendered fighters in Mariupol will be saved-Moscow
- Russia claims to have destroyed an urban area of the Ukrainian port city
- The eruptions hit Kiev in the north and Lviv in the west
- Ukraine says the situation in Mariupol is ‘very difficult’
April 17 (Reuters) – Russia has asked Ukrainian troops fighting in the besieged city of Mariupol to lay down their arms from 6 a.m. Moscow time (0300 GMT) on Sunday to save their lives.
Thirty minutes after the final warning, there were no immediate reports of action in the strategic southeast port. Air strike sirens sounded across the country, which was a regular occurrence, but there were no reports of any strikes.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said its troops had evacuated the Mariupol urban area and that only a small group of Ukrainian militants were staying inside an iron factory in the city on Saturday.
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Moscow’s claim to control Mariupol, the scene of the war’s fiercest fighting and the worst humanitarian catastrophe, has not been independently verified. It was the first major city to fall to Russian forces since the February 24 invasion.
“Given the catastrophic situation at the Azovstal metallurgical plant, guided by purely humanitarian principles, the Russian Armed Forces will provide fighters for nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries from 06:00 (Moscow time) on April 17. By 2022, the Ministry of Defense must lay down arms,” he said. Said in a statement. read more
“Everyone who puts down their weapons is assured that their lives will be saved,” it said, adding that security guards could leave the plant at 10 a.m. without weapons or ammunition.
There was no immediate response from Kiev.
“The situation in Mariupol is very difficult,” President Volodymyr Zhelensky told the Ukrainian Pravda news website. “Our soldiers are detained, the wounded are detained. There is a humanitarian crisis … However, the comrades are defending themselves.”
Moscow said its warplanes hit a tank repair factory in Kiev on Saturday as it launched long-range missile strikes across the country following the sinking of its Black Sea flagship. An explosion was heard and smoke billowed in the southeastern Tarnitsky district. The mayor said at least one person was killed and doctors were fighting to save the others. read more
The Ukrainian military says Russian warplanes departing from Belarus have fired missiles at the Lviv area near the Polish border and shot down four ship missiles by Ukrainian air defense forces.
The western city, relatively unaffected so far, has served as a refuge for refugees and international aid agencies.
Twisted steel, exploded concrete
In Mariupol, Reuters journalists reached out to the giant Illich Steelworks, one of two metal mills where guards kept it in underground tunnels and bunkers. Moscow said it had seized it on Friday.
With no sign of guards being present, the factory was reduced to rubble of twisted steel and exploded concrete. The bodies of several civilians were scattered in the nearby streets.
The RIA news agency reported that the Russian Defense Ministry and its troops had “completely cleared” the Mariupol urban area of Ukrainian forces and laid siege to the “remnants” of the Azovstel steelworks. As of Saturday, Ukrainian forces had lost more than 4,000 personnel in the city.
In Mariupol, Zhelensky accused Russia of “deliberately trying to destroy everyone” and said his government was in contact with the guards. He did not heed Moscow’s claim that Ukrainian forces were not present in the urban districts.
The governor of the eastern province of Kharkiv said at least one person had been killed and 18 wounded in a missile attack. Smoke billowed from burned cars and the remains of the city’s office building.
Russia says it has attacked a military vehicle repair factory in Mykolaiv, near the south.
The attacks came just hours after Russia’s announcement on Friday that it would intensify long-range attacks in retaliation for unspecified acts of “sabotage” and “terrorism”, confirming the sinking of its Black Sea flagship, Moscow.
Kiev and Washington say the sinking ship was hit by Ukrainian missiles as a sign of Ukrainian resistance. Moscow says it sank after the fire and about 500 of its employees were evacuated.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has released a video of Navy Chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov meeting with about a hundred sailors at a parade ground.
Russia’s greatest gift
If Mariupol falls, it will be Russia’s greatest gift in the war so far. It is the main port of Donbass, part of two provinces in the southeast, which Moscow demands to be fully handed over to the separatists.
Ukraine says it has so far blocked Russian advances in the Donbass region of Donetsk and Luhansk, where at least one person was killed in an overnight shelling. read more
Ukraine emerged victorious in the early stages of the war, in part by successfully deploying mobile units with anti-tank missiles supplied by the West against Russian armored vehicles confined to roads on muddy terrain.
But Putin seems determined to seize more of the Donbass territory to demand victory in the war that has left Russia with increasingly punitive Western sanctions and some allies.
EU President Ursula von der Leyen told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that EU sanctions on Russia would target banks, including Sberbank (SBER.MM) and oil.
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Report by Reuters journalists in Kyiv, Lviv and Mariupol and the Reuters Bureau worldwide; Written by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing: William Mallard
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.