War in Ukraine | Mariupol | Ukrainian Armed Forces ready to ‘fight to the end’

Russian troops could block the southern and northern entrances to Mariupol and require passports to travel there as early as Monday, CNN reported on Sunday. In the besieged city, the remaining Ukrainian defenders ignored Russia’s ultimatum on Sunday and said they would “fight to the end”.

Updated April 17th

Purple Dussault

Purple Dussault
The press

According to the Russian armed forces, 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers are still holed up in the Azovstal metallurgical complex in Mariupol. They refused on Sunday to hand the city over to Russia after more than 50 days of fighting.

Moscow had asked the last combatants to lay down their arms in the morning and to clear the area at noon.

Ignoring the Russian ultimatum, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Chmyhal assured that Ukrainian troops would continue to defend Mariupol: “No, the city did not fall. Our armed forces, our soldiers are still there. They will fight to the end,” he assured ABC television on Sunday.


PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Denys Chmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine

For his part, Ukraine’s diplomatic chief Dmytro Kouleba, in an interview broadcast by CBS, accused the Russian army of “wanting to raze the city at any cost”. The day before, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had warned that the “elimination” of the last Ukrainian soldiers would end “all peace negotiations” with Moscow.

At the end of Sunday, Mariupol was still under Ukrainian control, according to sources consulted The press. “Russia has been issuing ultimatums for three weeks,” says Dominique Arel, Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa.

There is no military objective that Russia has been pursuing since the beginning of the war. They may succeed in taking Mariupol, but at what cost?

Dominique Arel, Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa

Recall that the capture of this city would be an important victory for the Russians, which would allow them to consolidate their territorial gains on the coast along the Sea of ​​Azov, taking over the Donbass region, partially controlled by their supporters will connect to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

Passport to Mariupol?

However, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol had warned that Russian troops would block the northern and southern entrances to the city from Monday and demand passports from the population, US broadcaster CNN reported on Sunday evening.

“Hundreds of citizens had to wait in line to get a passport, without which from next week it will be impossible not only to move between districts, but also to go out on the streets,” Petro Andriushchenko said in the Telegram mobile application.

CNN has not been able to independently verify the information provided by Mr. Andriushchenko. The American chain specifies that he is not in Mariupol, but works from outside to collect facts from residents of the besieged city.

In the early hours of Sunday, the Ukrainian General Staff reported Russian airstrikes on Mariupol and mentioned “assault operations near the port”, but without further details.

At least 21,000 people were killed in the fighting in Mariupol, according to Ukrainian officials. The city would have a population of just 120,000, while its population had risen to 450,000 before the invasion. More than 100,000 civilians in the port city are at risk of starvation and lack heating, according to World Food Program director-general David Beasley.

“Destroy the Donbass”

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of wanting to “destroy” the entire Donbass in the east of the country. As a result, the Luhansk region in the east continued to be subjected to heavy bombardment, resulting in deaths and injuries, while fuel and ammunition warehouses were attacked in the Izium regions and near the city of Donetsk.


PHOTO FELIPE DANA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rescuers come to the aid of civilians injured in a Russian bombing raid in Kharkiv.

In addition, at least five people were killed and 13 injured in a series of strikes in Kharkiv, a major city in north-eastern Ukraine, on Sunday. Under these circumstances, the Ukrainian authorities have closed the humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from eastern Ukraine due to the failure to reach an agreement with the Russian army to cease fire.

Russian forces “continue to move combat and support equipment from Belarus to eastern Ukraine, including sites near Kharkiv and Sievierodonetsk,” the UK Defense Ministry confirmed.

Russian forces also said on Sunday they had bombed a new arms factory near Kyiv, executing for the third day in a row their threat to intensify their attacks on the Ukrainian capital after Thursday’s destruction of their fleet’s flagship at sea.

A long-awaited offensive

The major offensive in the east of the country that has been expected for more than a week has still not materialized. The Institute for the Study of War, analyzing the situation on the ground, noted that the Russians launched small offensives using artillery or mechanized forces around Izium, Popasna and the Rubishne and Sievierodonetsk regions.

But he believes these attacks are unlikely to be more effective than those in March around Kyiv “unless the Russians significantly change their operating model.”

The road conditions are not very good. It’s a thaw in Ukraine, so it’s starting to get muddy and swampy.

Dominique Arel, Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa

Not to mention that the Russian troops could not “overthrow” Kharkiv and therefore cannot use the country’s railways, specifies Dominique Arel.

“Russia keeps announcing the impending fall of Mariupol, but it is not being done and it is mobilizing about 15,000 Russian troops, observes Mr. Arel. As long as these fighting continue, Russia cannot send these troops [ailleurs]. »

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