Mariupol would be the largest city captured by Russia since invading Ukraine eight weeks ago in an attack that has lasted longer than some military analysts had anticipated
Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, who is said to have personally led the devastating attack on Mariupol, said the city would fall on Thursday.
Vladimir Putin’s top ally said Russian forces will capture the last main resistance stronghold in the besieged city today after Ukraine proposed talks to evacuate troops and civilians there.
Mariupol would be the largest city to be seized by Russia since it invaded Ukraine eight weeks ago in an attack that has lasted longer than some military analysts expected, with over five million people fleeing foreign countries and cities were reduced to rubble and ashes.
The city’s last defenses are said to be centered around the Azovstal Steelworks, along with about 1,000 civilians in hiding.
Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s Chechen Republic, whose forces have been fighting in Ukraine, said: “Before lunch or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the Russian Federation’s armed forces.”
A few dozen civilians in a small bus convoy managed to leave the strategically important port in the south-east on Wednesday and escape the heaviest battle of the war.
A Ukrainian naval commander, Serhiy Volny, said fighters at the steel mills might not be able to hold out much longer.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said an estimated 1,000 civilians are sheltering there.
Mariupol, once a prosperous coastal city of 400,000 people, is now a wasteland where corpses lie in the streets while Russia bombs the Azovstal Steel Plant with bunker-busting bombs, the government in Kyiv said.
Deputy commander of the Azov regiment in Mariupol, Svyatoslav Kalamar, said several bunkers under the facility still housed about 80 to 100 civilians each.
Black smoke billowed from the facility on Wednesday as evacuees queued to board buses.
Pensioner Tamara, 64, said she wanted to stay with her sister in Zaporizhia. She left with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and grandson.
“It’s my pleasure… to go after this nightmare. We lived in basements for 30 days,” she said through tears.
Ukraine accused Russian forces of failing to honor a local ceasefire agreement long enough to allow large numbers of people to leave the country.
Moscow denies attacking civilians and blames Ukraine for the failure of previous attempts to organize humanitarian corridors from Mariupol.
If Russia captured Mariupol, it would link territory held by pro-Russian separatists to the east with the Crimea region annexed by Moscow in 2014.
Kyiv has proposed swapping Russian prisoners of war for safe passage for trapped civilians and soldiers. It was not known whether Russia had responded to the offer of special negotiations.
Fighters remain entrenched at the facility and have ignored an ultimatum by Russia to surrender. Fewer civilians than hoped left on Wednesday.
Ukraine said it has so far repelled an attack by thousands of Russian troops trying to advance in the so-called Battle of Donbass, a new campaign to seize two eastern provinces that Moscow is claiming on behalf of separatists.
Russian forces have attacked dozens of military installations in eastern Ukraine and shot down a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter near the village of Koroviy Yar, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Putin said a first test launch on Wednesday of Russia’s Sarmat ICBM, a new and long-awaited addition to its nuclear arsenal, would “give food for thought to those who attempt it in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric threatening our country.”
Russia calls its invasion a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine.
Kyiv and its western allies reject this as a false pretext for a war by choice.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/chechen-warlord-ramzan-kadyrov-says-26760006 Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov says Mariupol will fall today in dire warning - World News