As the Russians continued to bombard Mariupol, Ukrainian military officials said Wednesday that the city’s defenders are running out of supplies and may lose control of the city in a few days or less.
This comes as Moscow moves closer to what would be the first major prize in its two-month war.
Despite the scant possibilities of victory, Ukrainian troops were holed up deep inside the city’s huge steel mill complex and its network of underground tunnels, refusing to surrender.
President Vladimir Putin issued new warnings to Ukraine and its Western allies, praising a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system that he claims is the most advanced in the world, while Russian troops bombarded the complex all day Wednesday.
The tenacious resistance in Mariupol is allowing Ukrainian forces to fortify and reinforce troops on defensive lines in the country’s Donbas area, where Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatist forces have been at odds for eight years.
After the first attacks following the February 24 invasion failed to take the capital of Kyiv or other important cities, Russian forces have focused all of their efforts on the war in the south and east of Ukraine.
Faced with the full force of Russia’s war machine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that his troops require greater weapons to have a fighting chance. According to Mr. Zelenskyy, the impasse in Mariupol might be resolved in two ways.
For starters, it entails the use of severe and powerful weapons….” We don’t have enough of these weapons right now to liberate Mariupol. The diplomatic route is the second option. So far, Russia hasn’t consented to this, “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko remarked,” as reported by CNN and other English-language news organizations.
We don’t know when Mariupol will be unblocked. And let me state unequivocally that all the boys in Mariupol want our victory and a liberated city. They’re not going to give up to the enemy. He explained, “This is their interior sense; this is who they are.”
With tens of thousands of civilians still stranded in Mariupol, Ukraine has hastened to build a humanitarian passage that will allow them to flee the destroyed city.
Ukrainian authorities said they had achieved a preliminary understanding with Russian forces to allow for such a corridor, but previous evacuation deals have fallen apart rapidly, and it was unclear late Wednesday whether the latest arrangement would hold.
On the same day that the Biden administration announced yet another wave of sanctions against Russian individuals, banks, and, for the first time, a cryptocurrency “mining” company, United Nations authorities revealed a new dismal milestone in the war: the number of Ukrainians fleeing the country as a result of the war has surpassed 5 million, making it Europe’s greatest refugee influx since World War II.
It’s because the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hasn’t let men of military age leave the country. The UN’s top refugee agency says that 90% of people who have fled are women and children.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that the Biden administration is working “around the clock” to meet Ukraine’s military needs in light of the Kremlin’s new policy.
“We made a strategic choice because we’ve seen Russia shift its forces and military to the eastern portion of Ukraine to conduct a different kind of ground conflict, which will be more shooting back and forth over a long range,” Ms. Psaki explained.
“We’ve been working with the Ukrainians and the Ukrainian military to figure out exactly what kind of security support they require at this point in the fight.”
Separately, Charles Michel, the leader of the European Union’s executive arm, became the latest Western dignitary to visit Kyiv to observe the conflict’s wreckage. With the help of Mr.
Zelenskyy, Mr. Michel talked to him and went on a tour of the Borodianka area, where Ukrainian officials say that now-departing Russian forces committed crimes that Moscow denies.
As Mr. Michel stated on Twitter, “History will not forget the war crimes that have been committed here.”
Capturing Mariupol would be a highly significant and much-needed symbolic victory for a Russian army that has been beset by embarrassing errors and logistical failures in the two-month-old conflict. After abandoning that battle, Russian soldiers have reassembled in the disputed Donbas region in preparation for an all-out assault on eastern Ukraine.
If Russia wins in Mariupol, it will be able to build a land bridge between the Donbas and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine militarily in 2014.
After eight weeks, the world has been amazed by how well-equipped and big Russian forces have been able to keep up with the smaller and weaker Ukrainian troops. If the city surrenders, this will be a huge psychological setback for the Ukrainian troops.
However, it looks like Russian commanders learned from their mistakes and are trying to cut off the city of Mariupol from the rest of Ukraine by targeting its food and water.
The British Ministry of Defense said in a tweet Wednesday that “Russian attacks on cities across Ukraine demonstrate their goal of stymieing the passage of Ukrainian reinforcements and armaments to the east of the nation.”
The Russian authorities claimed to have submitted a draft text to Kyiv outlining their demands for a cease-fire.
“The ball is in their court, and we’re waiting for a response,” Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said.
It’s unknown exactly what those documents include. Officials in Ukraine stated on Wednesday that they are considering the suggestion.
Meanwhile, Mr. Putin continued to ratchet up the tensions by announcing the successful test of Russia’s new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system. After watching footage of the test launch, Mr. Putin congratulated his armed troops and issued a new threat to Ukraine, the United States, and NATO.
“I would like to express my congratulations on the successful launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile. According to Russia’s state-run Tass News Agency, “it is a great and historic event in the development of modern weapon systems in the Russian army.”
“There are no analogs in the world, and there won’t be for a long time.” “This truly unique weapon will help our armed forces fight better, keep Russia safe from foreign threats, and make those who try to attack our country in a rage and aggression think twice,” he said.
Mr. Putin said that the Sarmat system was built entirely of Russian parts, ensuring that its development and eventual deployment would be free of Western economic sanctions.
As the US and its NATO allies want to isolate the Russian economy as much as possible, Moscow will likely need to take this approach for years to come. When Russian representatives began speaking at a G-20 conference in Washington on Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and top financial officials from the United Kingdom and Canada walked out.
According to Reuters, Ukrainian officials also left the meeting, citing anonymous sources.
In a tweet, British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the high-level exit.
Earlier today, my representatives, along with their counterparts from the United States and Canada, left the G20 conference in Washington when Russian delegates spoke, he said. “We all agree that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is unacceptable, and we will work to improve international coordination in order to punish Russia.”
According to the Reuters news agency, the situation in Ukraine is so bad that the head of Ukraine’s Orthodox church has advised believers not to attend Easter services in areas of the country where fighting is taking place, saying he has little faith that Russian forces will honor any cease-fire to mark the Orthodox Eastern celebrations this weekend.
The Orthodox Easter service takes place late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, followed by a traditional feast.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Metropolitan Epifaniy said, “It’s hard to think this will really happen.” “The adversary is aiming to thoroughly destroy us.”