Russia says its forces have taken over the city of Mariupol, and only a small number of Ukrainian fighters remain at the Azovstal plant in the besieged southern part of the port city as Moscow launches airstrikes against the capital Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. The claim is not yet been confirmed by independent sources.
“The situation in Mariupol is very difficult. Our soldiers are blocked; the wounded are blocked. There is a humanitarian crisis… However, our boys are defending themselves,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said that if the Ukrainian forces in the plant “Azovstal” in Mariupol lay down their weapons by 6:00 local time today, their lives would be spared. A Russian official said that the proposal, made after weeks of fierce fighting, was dictated by the “catastrophic situation” at the plant and by “purely humane principles”.
The official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said that the entire urban area of Mariupol had been completely cleared of ‘militants of the ‘Nazi’ formation “Azov”, banned in the Russian Federation. There were also no foreign mercenaries and Ukrainian troops left. “The remnants of the Ukrainian group are currently completely blocked on the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant. Their only chance to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender,” Konashenkov stressed.
The battle for Mariupol
As per the Russian MoD, Mariupol, at the time of encirclement, i.e. on March 11, there was a sizeable Ukrainian group. It included the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, the 503rd Separate Marine Battalion, the 109th Territorial Defense Brigade, a company of the 53rd Separate Mechanized Brigade, units of the 17th Anti-tank Brigade, ‘Nazi’ formations banned in the Russian Federation “Azov”, “Aidar”, “Right Sector”, units of the Ukrainian police and state border service, as well as foreign mercenaries.
The total number of this group, according to Konashenkov, was about 8100 men in arms.
Konashenkov said that during the liberation of Mariupol, 1,464 Ukrainian servicemen had already surrendered, and the number of those who laid down their arms was increasing daily. It included those who escaped from the territory of Azovstal. “According to their testimonies, the total number of Ukrainian servicemen, Nazis and foreign mercenaries who took refuge in Azovstal no longer exceeds 2.5 thousand people,” he said.
“Thus, on April 16, only in Mariupol, the losses of the Ukrainian group amounted to more than 4,000 people,” the general said. He was pointing out Zelensky’s recent statements to the Western media that the irretrievable losses of the Ukrainian military during the operation were 2.5-3 thousand.
Russian Aerospace Forces strike underground tunnels of the Azovstal plant
On April 16, The Russian Aerospace Forces carried out a series of airstrikes on the territory of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, where the remnants of Ukrainian troops and nationalists had dug in.
Since there were no civilians at the enterprise, strikes were carried out using the powerful FAB-500 and FAB-3000 aerial bombs, depriving the Ukrainian forces of the underground tunnels on the territory of Azovstal. The plant has an extensive network of underground tunnels, which Ukrainians actively used to quietly move from one part of the plant to another. As a result of the bombing, some tunnels had collapsed.
Victory Day parade on May 9
A Victory Parade is planned by the People’s Militia of the DPR in Mariupol,
reported Ukrainian media with reference to the “adviser to the mayor” of Mariupol, Petr Andryushchenko. According to him, the organization of the parade will be taken up by the new mayor of the city Konstantin Ivashchenko.
“Judging by the whole array of data, the Russians are planning to hold a ‘carnival of victory’ on May 9 in Mariupol if the ‘special operation’ is successful,” wrote Andryushchenko, quoted by UNIAN.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian media are silent about the mass surrender of two battalions on Tuesday, April 12, and officials still claim that this story is fake.
The spokesman of Volodymyr Zelensky, Aleksey Arestovich, even said that the remnants of the 36th Marine Brigade, surrounded in Mariupol, allegedly escaped from the blockade at Azovmash, connected with the Azov Regiment and “significantly strengthened the defense area of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
Mass surrender – 1026 people, took place in the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works area. Among those who surrendered are 162 officers and 47 female servicemen, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
As per Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry has reliable data on the actual losses of the Ukrainian army, the National Guard and foreign mercenaries who arrived, which Zelensky is afraid to tell the people of Ukraine. “Today, irretrievable losses amount to 23,367 people,” the general said.
He said that the Russian military department would soon publish some data from the Ukrainian documents on the losses, revealing the place of death of the burial place of the dead.