Over 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers surrender in Mariupol: Russia

Russia’s defence ministry said more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered in Mariupol, a strategic port city in Ukraine.

Russia’s defence ministry said more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers have “surrendered” in Mariupol, a strategic port city in eastern Ukraine that has been besieged by Moscow’s troops for over a month.

The Russians are incredibly close to capturing the city — potentially the first major landmark to fall since February 4 — and holds the key to the next phase of the war.

Mariupol is critical for Russia because it provides a connecting pathway between Russia’s south and east; occupied Crimea and Moscow-backed separatist territories Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas.

Russia has been relentless is its military operation and has laid siege to Mariupol since the start of its military operation with reports that bodies lie in the ruins of the streets.

Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to UN Office in Geneva posted a picture and video from Telegram appearing to confirm the surrender.

“In the city of Mariupol… 1,026 Ukrainian servicemen of the 36th marine brigade voluntarily laid down their arms and surrendered,” Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.

The ministry said that the soldiers surrendered near the “Mariupol Metallurgical Plant named after Illich”, a large steel factory.

Among the troops were 162 officers and 47 were women, the ministry added.

More than 150 wounded received “primary medical assistance at the scene, following which all of them were taken to the Mariupol city hospital for medical treatment”, the general said.

Reports are so far vague from Ukraine but the strongest response has come from the BBC who claim “Ukraine says the city is still standing despite being under siege”.

A Ukraine defence spokesman told Reuters they had no information on a surrender while Ukraine’s general staff reportedly said that Russian forces were continuing with their attacks on Azovstal and the port.

In his latest speech overnight Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country was in need of additional weapons, warning Russia “still has the capacity to attack”.

“Without additional weapons, this war will turn into an endless bloodbath that will spread misery, suffering and destruction. Mariupol, Bucha, Kramatorsk – the list goes on,” he said. “No one will stop Russia except Ukraine with heavy weapons.”

President Zelensky said earlier this week he believed Russia was responsible for the deaths of “tens of thousands” of people.

Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko estimated on Tuesday that between 20,000 and 22,000 people had died in the city.

Kyiv officials said last month that as early as the beginning of March the confirmed deaths were already around 5,000 but by that point it could already have been as high as 10,000.

Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman on Thursday claimed Russia was utilising 13 mobile crematoria to “clean the streets from the bodies of dead civilians”, efforts that if confirmed would make establishing an accurate toll in the city all the more difficult.

Meanwhile US President Joe Biden accused Vladimir Putin of committing genocide against civilians in Ukraine, as Kyiv halted humanitarian corridors in several parts of the country deemed “too dangerous” for evacuations.

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