Top Putin ally says Russia will take Mariupol on Thursday According to Reuters


© Reuters. Local residents walk past an apartment building destroyed during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 20, 2022. REUTERS / Alexander Ermochenko


By Natalia Zinets

(Reuters) – A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian forces would capture the last major point of resistance in the besieged city of Mariupol on Thursday after Ukraine proposed talks over the disperse the army and civilians there.

Mariupol will be the largest city captured by Russia since invading Ukraine eight weeks ago in an offensive that lasted longer than some military analysts expected, which saw more than 5 million people Run abroad and turn cities into ruins.

Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, where forces are fighting in Ukraine, said: “Before lunchtime or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the Russian Federation forces. .

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

According to Reuters witnesses, several dozen civilians managed to leave the strategically important southeastern port on Wednesday in a convoy of minibuses, to escape the fiercest battle of the war.

A Ukrainian maritime commander, Serhiy Volny, said the fighters at the steel works may not be able to hold out much longer. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said an estimated 1,000 civilians were sheltering there.

Ukraine is ready for a “special round of negotiations” with no conditions “to save our people, (far right) Azov (battalion), army, civilians, children, survivors and injured,” negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

Kyiv has proposed swapping Russian prisoners of war for safe passage for trapped civilians and soldiers. It is not known whether Russia will respond to the offer of special negotiations.

The fighters remained in hiding in the factory and ignored the Russian ultimatum to surrender. Fewer civilians were expected to leave on Wednesday.

Ukraine says it has so far staged an offensive by thousands of Russian troops trying to advance in what Kyiv calls the Battle of Donbas, a new campaign to capture two eastern provinces that Moscow claims as human rights. secessionist faction.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that Russian forces had carried out airstrikes on dozens of military facilities in eastern Ukraine and shot down a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter near the village of Koroviy Yar.

Putin said Wednesday’s first test launch of Russia’s Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, a new and long-awaited addition to the country’s nuclear arsenal, would “provide food of thought for those who, in the fury of rampaging madness, try to threaten our country.”

Russia called its attack a “special military operation” aimed at the demilitarization and “denuclearization” of Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss it as a bogus pretext for a war of choice.

G7 finance ministers at Wednesday’s meeting said Russia should no longer participate in international forums, including the G20, International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings this week.

Top officials from Britain, the United States and Canada stepped out on behalf of Russia at the Group of 20 meeting in Washington, highlighting deep divisions within the bloc of major economies.

The West has imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia and Washington went further on Wednesday, imposing restrictive measures on dozens of people and institutions, including a commercial bank. .


Mariupol, once a prosperous seaside city with a population of 400,000, has now become a wasteland where corpses littered the streets when Russia knocked down the Azovstal steel plant with bunker bombs, the Kyiv government said. .

The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment in Mariupol, Svyatoslav Kalamar, said some bunkers under the plant still hold between 80-100 civilians.

Black smoke rose from the factory on Wednesday as evacuees lined up to board buses.

Pensioner Tamara, 64, said she will stay with her sister in Zaporizhzhia. She passed away with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and grandson.

“It’s been an honor…to be gone after this nightmare. We lived in the basement for 30 days,” she said through tears.

Ukraine accuses Russian forces of failing to abide by a local truce long enough to allow large numbers of people to leave. Russia did not immediately respond to this allegation.

Moscow denies targeting civilians and blames Ukraine for the failure of previous efforts to organize humanitarian corridors out of Mariupol.

If Russia captures Mariupol, it would link the territory held by pro-Russian separatists in the east with the Crimea region that Moscow annexed in 2014.

Moscow was forced to retreat from northern Ukraine after its offensive on Kyiv was repelled last month, but has poured troops back in for an offensive in the east that began this week.

Ukraine’s presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russia is focused on advancing to the city of Sloviansk, but “so far they have not been successful”.

Meanwhile, peace talks have stalled.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said peace talks were likely to fail and world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, agreed during a call this week that they would continue to provide arms to Ukraine.

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