If the Russians kill the last Ukrainian soldiers in the port city of Mariupol, it will mean the end of peace negotiations with Moscow. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told news portal Ukrajinska Pravda on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Russians said all metropolitan areas of Mariupol are “free of Ukrainian troops.”
Lawrence Turksource† Reuters, Belgium
“The elimination of our soldiers, our men, will end all negotiations between Russia and Ukraine,” Zelensky said of Mariupol. The Russians have besieged the port city in southeastern Ukraine for weeks.
Regarding the casualties, the head of state said that “Mariopol can be ten times more than Borodinka.” Russian soldiers destroyed that Ukrainian town near Kyiv and are said to have committed atrocities there. “The more issues like the Burjanka case, the more difficult it will be to negotiate,” Zelensky said. Last week, Ukrainian authorities reported that the fighting in Mariupol had claimed between 20,000 and 22,000 lives. Before the war, the city had a population of 441,000.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced, on Saturday, that “the entire metropolitan area of Mariupol has been liberated from Ukrainian forces.” Only a few fighters will remain at the Azovstal Steel Plant. “Their only chance to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender,” she said.
Russian forces have been trying to capture the port city on the Sea of Azov, northeast of the Black Sea, for several weeks. The ministry said in an online statement that Ukrainian forces in the besieged coastal city have already lost more than 4,000 people. According to Russia, 1464 soldiers have surrendered so far. According to Moscow, there are now 23,367 “irreparable losses” since the start of the war. However, no evidence has been provided, and it is also not clear whether Moscow is talking about the dead or injured, according to Reuters.