KYIV – A Russian deadline for the surrender of the last surviving Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol expired on Sunday, with Moscow set for a huge strategic triumph in the southeastern port city.
Despite Moscow turning its military attention to capturing control of the eastern Donbas area and building a land corridor to already-annexed Crimea, continued Russian air attacks damaged a weapons complex in Kyiv.
“During the night, high-precision, air-launched missiles damaged an ammunitions plant in Brovary, Kyiv area,” Russia’s defense ministry stated, the third such air attack near the capital in as many days.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk asked Russian troops to enable evacuations from Mariupol, which Moscow claims to have taken control of, despite the fact that Ukrainian fighters remain holed up in the city’s fortress-like steelworks.
Moscow issued an ultimatum to the fighters on Saturday, ordering them to lay down their guns by 6:00 a.m. Moscow time (0300 GMT) and to flee by 13:00 p.m.
“Once again, we urge the establishment of a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of people from Mariupol, particularly women and children,” Vereshchuk stated.
According to Russia’s defense ministry, there are up to 400 mercenaries inside the surrounded Azovstal steel factory, and Ukrainian soldiers inside are being urged to “laid down their guns and surrender in order to save their lives.”
Moscow says Kyiv has instructed nationalist Azov battalion troops to “kill on the spot” anybody attempting to surrender.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that if Russian forces murder Kyiv’s last defenders, a budding peace process to conclude almost two months of combat would be terminated.