Moscow / Kyiv – Russia has claimed to have taken over Mariupol, one of eastern Ukraine’s most important cities and ports. A contingent of Ukrainian and foreign troops has taken refuge in a steel factory in the city. The Russian Defence Ministry informed that it appealed to the group to surrender. At the same time, Russia has again intensified its attacks since Saturday night, targeting more than 60 regions of Ukraine, a Russian spokesman said.
Mariupol is the most crucial port in Ukraine and is known as the leading base of the Ukrainian navy. Mariupol has become decisive for Russia as a city that connects the east Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk with Crimea by the maritime route. Russian forces had launched attacks on the town since early March. Russia has succeeded in taking over the city after nearly a month and a half. A unit of the Ukrainian military has taken refuge in the city’s Azovstal factory. The Russian forces have called for this contingent to surrender. But they have not yet responded.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the military contingent and said he was in touch with them. Zelensky has warned that Ukraine will withdraw from peace talks if Russian troops kill Ukrainian soldiers. Ukrainian leaders in Mariupol have warned that the soldiers will not retreat and are ready for the conflict. However, the Russian sources have claimed that Russia will soon take over the factory. There are also indications that Russia will intensify its military campaign in Ukraine following the seizing of Mariupol.
It has surfaced that Russia has increased the intensity and extent of the attacks more since Saturday. Since Saturday night, Russian forces have targeted 68 locations in various Ukrainian cities, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. The Ammunition Factory near the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, was attacked by a missile. Military locations were also targeted in Kharkiv. Besides, a Russian spokesman also said that an army transport plane supplying weaponry to Ukraine was shot down near Odessa. Defence spokesman Konashenkov also informed that 134 fighter jets, 470 drones, and more than 2,000 artillery shells and armoured vehicles were destroyed after Russia’s action began in February.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that there was an incident of bodies of Ukrainian citizens and soldiers being found near the capital, Kyiv. According to the information provided by the authorities in Ukraine, about 900 bodies have been found. More than 400 people were buried in the ground earlier in the Bucha area, the Ukrainian government had claimed.