The Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, the last pocket of resistance at this strategic port on the Sea of Azov, came under Russian control on Friday night, while in the Donbass further north, Moscow artillery hit Kyiv’s positions.
Earlier in the evening, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the steel complex had “passed under the full control of the Russian armed forces” after the last Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered, and that the news had been passed on to the president. Poutine.
Footage released by Moscow showed groups of men in combat gear leaving the steelworks, some with crutches or bandages, after a long battle that has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion.
“Rescuing Our Heroes”
“The military high command gave the order to save the lives of the soldiers of our garrison and stop defending the city,” regiment commander Denys Prokopenko said in a video on Telegram, a major bandage on the day. right arm and swollen left, from what appeared to be an underground room.
Kyiv rejects the surrender term, Mr. Zelensky referring to the “rescuing our heroes”.
The Russian military released footage late on Friday that it said was of the search for unarmed Ukrainian fighters by Russian soldiers.
Ukraine hopes to exchange prisoners of war, but Russia has made it clear, implicitly targeting the Azov regiment, which considers some of them to be “neo-Nazi” fighters.
The International Committee of the Red Cross urged both sides to grant access to prisoners of war and civilian inmates “wherever they are being held”.
The battle for control of Mariupol resulted in several charges of war crimes by Western powers, including the attack on a maternity hospital.
Ukraine has opened more than 12,000 war crimes investigations since February 24, according to the Ukrainian Public Ministry.
On Friday, Sergeant Vadim Chichimarine, 21, admitted to killing an unarmed civilian early in the offensive, in the first trial of a Russian soldier accused of war crimes since the invasion began, whose verdict is expected on Monday.
The young soldier said he was “sincerely sorry” but his lawyer declared him “not guilty” of premeditated murder and war crimes in his closing arguments.
On the financial side, President Volodymyr Zelensky wants Russia to be held legally responsible for the damage caused by the invasion of Ukraine and for Russian assets to be used to compensate for the damage suffered by his country.
Ukrainian counteroffensive in June?
After failing to take Kyiv and Kharkiv, the second Ukrainian city (northeast), Russia is focusing its military efforts on the east and south.
“The enemy is constantly carrying out offensive operations in the eastern operational zone to establish full control over the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and keep the land corridor with Crimea temporarily occupied,” the state said. forces on Facebook Saturday morning.
In the Donbass coal basin, partially controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu assured that the conquest of the Lugansk region was “almost complete”.
Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandre Motouzianyk said the situation “has shown signs of worsening” and that “Russian occupation forces are conducting intense fire along the entire front line”.
“While we are resisting, our troops are receiving foreign weapons, rearming, regrouping, and I think that in June we will see the counterattack”, assured local governor Serguiï Gaïdaï on the night of Friday to Saturday.
In Lozova, an eastern town, at least eight people, including a child, were injured in a Russian missile attack on a newly rebuilt cultural centre, Ukrainian officials said on Friday.