Soldiers of the pro-Russian forces and armored vehicles with the Z symbol appear near the Azovstal factory on April 13 – Photo: REUTERS
“All those who drop their guns will be guaranteed to survive,” the Russian Defense Ministry pledged in an ultimatum issued on April 19. The Azovstal factory is located in an industrial zone of about 11 square kilometers, considered by Russia to be the last resistance in the city. Mariupol.
A statement by the Russian Defense Ministry stated that the “humanitarian corridor” will only open to those who drop their weapons and leave the Azovstal factory before 2pm on April 19 (local time), according to AFP news agency.
The commander of the armed forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic), Eduard Basurin, said that separatist “shock troops” had carried out an attack on the factory.
“The Russian Federation is supporting us in this battle with artillery and air force. There are no civilians there,” said Mr. Basurin. This statement raised concerns that Russia and pro-Russian forces will raze the Azovstal plant if the ultimatum expires.
This is the second time Russia has issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces entrenched inside Azovstal. On April 17, the Kiev side announced that its troops in Mariupol had ignored the request to surrender and would continue to fight.
The head of the Russian Republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, vowed to “completely liberate” Mariupol and capture the Azovstal factory “in the near future”.
“I want to please those who are waiting for peace and stability in Ukraine,” Kadyrov emphasized on Telegram channel on the afternoon of April 19. The leader of the Chechen Republic identifies himself as a soldier of President Vladimir Putin and has been involved in the war in Ukraine since its first weeks.
Chechen soldiers with combat abilities took part in battles in eastern Ukraine, including Mariupol.
Ukrainian authorities have not yet commented on Russia’s new ultimatum in Mariupol. With full control of the city, Russia would be able to establish a land corridor running from the western border to the Crimea annexed in 2014.
Location of Azovstal iron and steel plant in Mariupol. The pink areas are the areas Russia has controlled, the yellow ones are the places where Russia is sending troops to attack to take control – Source: THE GUARDIAN
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