War in Ukraine: “Steel has reached its breaking point”

Thursday 14 April 2022 04:45 BST

The mayor of Mariupol said that Ukrainian forces in the city would continue to fight despite the lack of ammunition and their numerical inferiority.

Vadym Boichenko said: “Our heroic defenders are fighting, resisting with incredible valor and bravery, defending the city of Mariupol, defending our future and our homeland, Ukraine.”

“It must be very clear, their fate is very difficult because they are vastly outnumbered. It is very difficult for them to hold on. When they say they are steel, you must also know that steel has also its breaking points, but they hold firm and the city of Mariupol remains a Ukrainian city,” the mayor added.

His words came as Russian state media released footage purporting to show a unit of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering.

Sky News has located the video in the city but cannot verify when it was filmed or whether it depicts a genuine surrender.

A Russian military spokesman said: “In Mariupol, in the area of ​​the Ilyich steel plant, as a result of successful offensive actions by Russian troops and militia units of the Donetsk People’s Republic , 1,026 Ukrainian servicemen of the 36th Marine Brigade voluntarily laid down their arms and surrendered.”

Mariupol, in the far south-east of Ukraine, has come under near-constant bombardment since the start of the Russian invasion.

It is a key port city and has become a stubborn but vital strategic prize for Russia.

The mayor issued a staggering and as yet uncontained update on the death toll.

“90% of the infrastructure has been razed by the Russian Federation,” the mayor said.

“Hospitals were bombed, bomb shelters were bombed, innocent civilians were killed in Mariupol. 21,000+ is the death toll in Mariupol. These are the dead from the bombings.”

Last war in Ukraine: “Mariupol will fall in a few hours”

With the city largely in lockdown, even the number of casualties is hard to verify, but from satellite imagery the city looks like the urban wastelands the Russians left in Aleppo, Syria and Grozny, Chechnya before. that.

On the claims of chemical weapons used here, there is still no clarity.

“The day before yesterday (Monday), Russian troops tried to hit our city with a chemical attack, they tried to drop the chemical agent on our defenders, the agent hit our defenders, a few people in the outskirts of Mariupol were also affected, they felt the sweet taste in their mouths,” the mayor said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not repeat this claim, but did repeat a claim that the Russians use phosphorus.

The substance is not illegal under international law as long as it is used in a battlefield scenario away from civilians.

In a separate allegation, Mayor Boichenko said Russians used mobile crematoria to dispose of bodies.

“Our intelligence services have confirmed that the crematorium team has arrived in the city and is preparing to eliminate evidence of war crimes committed by the Russian Federation.” he said.

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The allegation follows the release of a photo by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense which they said showed a mobile crematorium inside a truck.

Sky News was unable to verify the image.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said: “13 mobile crematoriums were used to clean the streets from the bodies of dead civilians… In addition, the Russian armed forces use mobile crematoriums to destroy the bodies of Russian soldiers, in order to hide the actual number of their soldiers who were killed in the Russian aggression…”

Read more: What we can expect from Russia’s new invasion commander

With the Russians now fully withdrawn from the areas around kyiv, the new general in charge of Moscow, a veteran of Syria and Chechnya, is consolidating command and troop strength here in the Far East.

The final pangs of the Battle of Mariupol seem imminent.

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