Mariupol Teeters as Russia Pounds Ukraine

Zelensky warns against atrocities after takeover
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2022 5:55 PM CDT
Russia Closes In on Mariupol
A Russian military convoy moves Saturday on a highway in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces near Mariupol, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

(Newser) – Russian forces were close to seizing Mariupol on Saturday, with defense officials in Moscow saying the only significant opposition in the city was the 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers surrounded at a huge steel plant. There's no way out for the troops, a Russian defense ministry spokesman said, per the New York Times. "The only chance to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender," he said, the Russian state news agency, Tass, reported. President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian forces in the strategically important port are better equipped and six times the size of his. "Nevertheless, our guys are heroically defending," Zelensky said. "We are grateful to them for that." Other developments involve:

Atrocities: If the Russians inflict atrocities in Mariupol like those in Bucha and other cities, Zelensky said, it would be the end of negotiations. So would "the destruction of all our boys in Mariupol," he said, per the Washington Post. Conditions in Mariupol are "just inhuman," Zelensky told the nation in his nightly video address.
Strikes: Russia hit military targets throughout Ukraine on Saturday. Explosions were heard in Lviv, in the west, as well as the capital of Kyiv, which Russia had threatened. The strikes could be both a response to the sinking of Russia's Moskva warship and an attempt to lay the groundwork for an offensive. One target hit was a tank factory in Kyiv, where the Neptune anti-ship missile that struck the Moskva was made.
The next phase: Russia could launch an offensive in the next few days, US officials said. Ukraine is running short of ammunition, per NBC News, and US officials are lobbying allies to send more in time to help counter the offensive.
'A Heroic Death': The governor in St. Petersburg announced that a Russian general whose troops have been fighting for Mariupol was buried Saturday. Maj. Gen. Vladimir Frolov "died a heroic death in battle," Gov. Alexander Beglov said in a statement. Frolov was the 8th Army's deputy commander, per the AP. (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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