More than 1,000 Ukraine marines surrender in key port of Mariupol, says Russia

AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov
A view inside the Mariupol theater damaged during fighting in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022.

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) -More than 1,000 Ukrainian marines have surrendered in the besieged port of Mariupol, Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday of Moscow’s main target in the eastern Donbas region which it has yet to bring under its control.

If the Russians take the Azovstal industrial district, where the marines have been holed up, they would be in full control of Mariupol, which would allow Russia to reinforce a land corridor between separatist-held eastern areas and the Crimea region that it seized and annexed in 2014.

Surrounded by Russian troops for weeks, Mariupol would be the first major city to fall since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, with the battle for the industrial heartland of Donbas likely to define the course of the war.

Ukraine’s general staff said that Russian forces were proceeding with attacks on Azovstal and the port, but a defence ministry spokesman said he had no information about any surrender.

Reuters journalists accompanying Russian-backed separatists saw flames billowing from the Azovstal district on Tuesday.