Kyiv, Apr 19 (EFE).- The last remaining Ukrainian soldiers holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol continue to defend the city amid a renewed surrender ultimatum from Russia, which ends Tuesday.
Petro Andriushchenko, advisor to the city’s mayor, said on Tuesday that Russian forces were shelling residential neighborhoods as well as dropping bombs over the Azovstal iron and steelworks where an unknown number of troops are making their last stand.
“Russian occupants are shelling Azovstal with super-heavy air bombs. There are at least 1,000 civilians in the underground shelters of the steel plant. Most of them are women with children and elderly people,” the city council’s press service said on Telegram, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
The southeastern port city has been under heavy bombardment since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Although the city has been reduced to rubble and its fate is hanging on a last group of soldiers who continue to resist Russia’s advance, municipal authorities continue to send messages about the dire situation in Mariupol.
“There, in Azovstal, there are many people in the bunkers — women, the elderly, and children. In terrible conditions, without medicine, food and water,” Ukraine’s former interior minister Arsen Avakov said.
On Monday night, Kyiv said residents had been allowed to return to the city to collect their belongings from their homes.
Avakov added that civilians had been ordered to wear a white ribbon, a symbol of the Russian army, which could place Mariupol residents in danger and make them the target of Ukrainian snipers, Interfax-Ukraine reported.
Russia has issued another ultimatum to Ukraine’s last defenders in Mariupol to surrender by noon Moscow time on Tuesday.
“Considering the disastrous situation that has developed at the Azovstal metallurgical plant and also following purely humanitarian principles, the Russian Armed Forces again offer militants of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries to halt any combat operations from 12:00 Moscow time on April 19, 2022 and lay down their arms,” Russia’s national defense control center chief, colonel general Mikhail Mizintsev, said.
“We again call on the Ukrainian authorities to show good sense, give corresponding orders to militants on the cessation of senseless resistance and leave the resistance area,” the military official added.
“However, being aware that they won’t receive such orders and commands from the Kyiv regime, we call on them to make this decision on their own and lay down their arms.”
The capture of Mariupol is key to Russia’s strategy of creating a land bridge between the separatist, self-proclaimed republics in the Donbas and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014. EFE