The president of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky, affirmed this Friday that the devastated city of Mariupol “continues to resist” despite the fact that Russia claims to have taken it, while the Russian forces offered a truce in “all or part” of the area. industrial area of Azovstal, the last focus of defense of the Ukrainian forces in that port city.
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, had celebrated this Thursday the “liberation” of this port city on the Sea of Azov, in the southeast, although some 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers remain entrenched in the Azovstal industrial complex, about 4 square kilometers in area, where there are also civilian refugees, according to kyiv.
However, Zelensky assured that the battle continued, on the 58th day of the Russian invasion.
“In the south and east of our country, the invaders continue to do everything to have a reason to speak of at least some victory,” he said in a video.
“They can only delay the inevitable: the moment when the invaders will have to leave our territory, particularly Mariupol, a city that continues to resist Russia despite everything the invaders say,” the Ukrainian leader added, the news agency reported. AFP.
However, Putin quickly retorted that the Zelensky government was preventing the occupants of the steel plant from saving their lives by handing over their weapons, which he called an “irresponsible” attitude.
This port city has been the constant target of attacks and siege by Russian troops, who seek to create a corridor between the annexed Crimean peninsula and the pro-Russian separatist territories of Donetsk and Lugansk, in the eastern region of Donbass.
“In the south and in the east of our country, the invaders continue to do everything to have a reason to speak of at least some victory. They can only delay the inevitable: the moment when the invaders will have to leave our territory, particularly Mariupol, a city that continues to resist Russia”(S)Volodimir Zelensky(A)
This port city has been a constant target of attacks and siege by Russian troops, who seek to create a corridor between the annexed Crimean peninsula and the Russian-speaking separatist territories of Donetsk and Lugansk, in the eastern region of Donbass.
“The success of the Russian offensive in the south depends on the fate of Mariupol,” Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko told AFP.
Kirilenko assured that the Russians “concentrate all their efforts in Mariupol”, at a time when the last Ukrainian fighters are entrenched in the Azovstal plant with about “300 civilians”.
Although he admitted that the shelling continues in the area and the Ukrainian forces are going through a “very difficult” situation, he stressed that they still have “some ammunition” and “they will resist as long as necessary.”
The Ukrainian authorities requested an immediate humanitarian corridor to allow civilians and wounded fighters to leave the Azovstal steel mill, which Putin ordered to be besieged externally after ruling out a final assault to avoid a high cost in the lives of fighters. both sides.
“They hardly have food, water, essential medicines,” said a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
Besides, Zelensky accused Russia last night of preparing the organization of a false independence referendum in the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhiawhich are under your control.
In a video message, Zelensky asked the inhabitants of those areas not to offer any personal data, such as passport numbers, that the Russian forces claim from them.
“It is not just to establish a census (…) It is not to give them humanitarian aid of any kind. It is to falsify an alleged referendum on their land, if the order to organize this parody comes from Moscow,” Zelensky warned, AFP collected .
Ukraine had already accused Russia in early March of wanting to stage a “referendum” in Kherson in the image of the one held in 2014 to seal the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, considered illegal by kyiv and Western countries.
The acting commander of the Russian Central Military District, Rustam Minnekaev, confirmed that the second phase of the military operation in Ukraine is aimed at establishing control over Donbass and the south of the country.
“Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation … one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over Donbass and southern Ukraine, something that will make it possible to organize a land corridor to Crimea,” he said. Russian official in Moscow, quoted by the Sputnik news agency.
On March 29, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that it considers the essential objective of the first phase of the operation to be fulfilled, which was to reduce Ukraine’s war capacity, to focus, then, on the “liberation of Donbass.