Russia issues ultimatum to remaining Mariupol defenders

Russia issued an ultimatum to the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol, asking them to lay down their arms and evacuate this strategic port in southeast Ukraine on Sunday; this will constitute an important victory for Moscow, its capture.

• Also read: No humanitarian corridor today as there is no agreement with the Russians

Russian forces also said they bombed a new weapons factory near Kyiv on Sunday for the third day in a row, following threats to escalate strikes against the Ukrainian capital following the destruction of its flagship fleet in the Black Sea.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday evening that the situation in Mariupol, which he claims Russian forces almost completely control after heavy fighting, is “inhuman”, with the exception of one resistance zone.

He urged the Westerners to “immediately” supply the heavy weapons he had been asking for for several weeks, and threatened to halt peace talks with Moscow if the last Ukrainian troops in Mariupol were “destroyed”.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has asked the last Ukrainian fighters stationed at the Azovstal metallurgical complex to end the engagement at 06:00 Moscow time (0300 GMT) on Sunday and evacuate the building before 1300 (1000 GMT).

“Anyone who puts down their gun will be guaranteed their lives will be saved,” the ministry said on Telegram. “This is their only chance.”

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Ukrainian general staff stated that airstrikes were carried out on the city by the Russians, mainly from the Donetsk region. Also in a statement, he mentioned “offensive operations near the port” without providing further details.

The capture of this city would be an important victory for the Russians, as it would allow them to consolidate their coastal territorial gains along the Sea of ​​Azov by connecting the Donbass region partially controlled by their supporters with Moscow’s annexed Crimea. in 2014.

According to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, the Russian president believes he has won the battle sparked by his February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

“I think it’s in its own logic of war now,” said Mr. Nehammer in an interview with NBC, which was excerpted on Saturday. “I think he believes he has won the war.”

In an interview with the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera on Sunday, the head of the Italian government, Mario Draghi, regretted the apparent ineffectiveness of the “dialogue” with Vladimir Putin and pointed out that these contacts did not prevent the occurrence of “fear”. Continue in Ukraine.

“The situation in Mariupol is as serious as can be. It’s simply inhumane,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message.

According to him, there are only “two options”: the Westerners will either immediately surrender heavy weapons to help him lift the siege of Mariupol, in which 441,000 people lived before the February 24 invasion, or help him to end the war. Negotiation and lifting the siege of this city, where 441,000 people lived before the occupation on February 24”.

He was caught in the media, accusing the Russians of “refusing” to establish humanitarian corridors, saying “There is no food, no water, no medicine”.

According to David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, more than 100,000 civilians in Mariupol are on the verge of starvation and lack water and heating supplies.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called on Sunday to open an evacuation route for wounded soldiers from Mariupol.

At the same time, he announced the suspension of humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from eastern Ukraine, as there was no agreement with the Russian military to stop the firing.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Sunday that it has launched high-precision missiles at a munitions factory near Brovary in the Kyiv region.

Brovary Mayor Igor Sapojko claimed earlier Sunday that “some infrastructure elements were affected”.

An AFP reporter did not observe any destruction, smoke or fire at the scene.

Russian forces have carried out numerous attacks on military factories in Kyiv and its region in the last three days after the destruction of the cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea.

The Ukrainians claim that Neptune caused it to sink thanks to anti-ship missiles. The Pentagon acknowledged, stating that the Russian ship was hit by two Ukrainian missiles on Thursday.

One version, which Russian authorities have not officially confirmed, alludes to a fire in the building that sank during its withdrawal just hours later, causing the explosion of ammunition.

But Moscow has warned that it will intensify its attacks on the Ukrainian capital.

A Russian attack on Friday hit a complex producing Neptune missiles in the Kyiv region.

The mayor of the capital, Vitali Klitschko, announced that one person died and “several” were hospitalized after a strike on an industrial complex in the Darnytsky district on the outskirts of Kiev on Saturday.

Since the withdrawal of the Russian army from the area at the end of March, Kyiv and its environs had been relatively spared from bombardment, but the loss of Moscow enraged Moscow.

Russian forces also bombed an oil refinery in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, four kilometers from Lysytchansk, very close to the front line, according to local officials.

From the road along the site, AFP journalists were able to see tanks still burning late Saturday afternoon and a long cloud of black smoke pushed by the wind.

“Russian anti-aircraft defense shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane and delivered a large batch of weapons supplied to Ukraine by Western countries,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement in the Odessa region in southern Ukraine on Saturday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said nearly five million people had fled Ukraine since February 24, and another 40,200 had fled their country in the past 24 hours.