Russian forces on Tuesday called on Ukrainian troops to give up the remaining vestiges of defense in the key city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, where a steel plant was under attack.
The sprawling Azovstal plant, the last holdout for Ukrainian soldiers and civilians in the strategic port city, was taking constant fire as Moscow tried to secure control.
Russian forces have been after Mariupol for weeks, virtually ever since the invasion began on Feb. 24. For one thing, the city, if taken, would provide Russia a land bridge that the Kremlin needs from Crimea — which it forcibly annexed in 2014 — to eastern Ukraine, which is dominated in many areas by pro-Moscow separatists who also oppose the government in Kyiv.
As Russian troops make a new push in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, military commanders are making clear that other points in varying parts of Ukraine — including Lviv in the far western part of the country — remain important to Moscow.
“As well as bombing Azovstal, the Russians are chaotically striking the Levoberezhny district’s residential sector,” Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor’s office, said during fighting on Tuesday according to The Washington Post.
Relatives and friends attend a funeral Monday for Ukrainian Ruslan Nechyporenko, who was killed by Russian soldiers last month in the recaptured city of Bucha, north of Kyiv in Ukraine. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI
The Russian defense ministry gave Ukraine’s military until noon Tuesday to give up in Mariupol, or the assault will continue. On the Ukrainian side, there is no sign of capitulation.
Ukrainian lawmaker Kira Rudik told CNN on Tuesday that Russia’s new military offensive in the Donbas, which began on Monday, will be the “major battle” of the Russia-Ukraine war. Both sides have acknowledged that the war has entered a new phase.
“The result of it will impact what would happen to Mariupol, what would happen to Kyiv, what would happen to Lviv, to all the other cities of Ukraine,” Rudik said.
“This is why it is so important for us to get all the support right now we can and to get it now so we can stand up and we can actually win.”
Russia on Tuesday conducted missile strikes throughout Ukraine, along with artillery and rocket attacks on various cities, infrastructure and military positions along a roughly 300-mile eastern front in a bid to expand separatists’ control in the region.
“This morning, along almost the entire front line in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the occupiers attempted to break through our defenses,” said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, according to The New York Times.
“Our servicemen are holding out,” he said, adding that the Russian forces could only “break the front at two points.”
Russian officials said that missiles destroyed several Ukrainian defense locations, including storage depots, and struck more than 1,200 over the past 24 hours. Those claims were not immediately verified.
Copyright 2022 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.