Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the battle for Mariupol on Thursday and canceled plans to storm the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in a sprawling steel plant.
Putin called the military effort to liberate Mariupol a “success” and urged Ukrainian troops holed up in the Azovstal plant to surrender, promising “decent treatment” for all and medical attention to the wounded. He ordered Russian troops to blockade the plant.
“There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities,” Putin said. “Block off this industrial area so that the fly does not fly through.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters remained inside the Azovstal steel plant. Putin
“The territory of the Azovstal plant with the remnants of nationalists and foreign mercenaries located is securely blocked,” Shoigu said. Putin and Shoigu’s comments appeared to reflect a change in strategy in Mariupol, where the Russians previously seemed determined to take every last inch of the city.
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►Speaking to the European Council about peace talks with Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of not taking the issue seriously, saying Ukraine hasn’t received any documents listing demands for peace talks.
►In a survey of 27 countries, an Ipsos survey found that 61% of adults think Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses a significant risk to their country. That number was highest in Japan, where 87% of people surveyed believe the invasion poses a significant threat.
Another $800M in aid coming to Ukraine from US
President Joe Biden will announce additional military aid for Ukraine today totaling about $800 million, matching a drawdown of the same amount last week as Russia concentrates attacks on the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas. Biden will announce the aid during remarks on the war from the White House Roosevelt Room, according to a White House official.
The latest infusion of security assistance, which includes more artillery and artillery rounds, brings the total U.S. aid to Ukraine during Biden’s presidency to about $4 billion. That includes $3.4 billion since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly pushed Western allies, particularly the U.S., to provide more aid amid allegations that Putin directed war crimes and genocide. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby this week said weapons and other equipment have arrived in Ukraine in “unprecedented speed.”
– Joey Garrison
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres formally submitted letters requesting to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, his spokesperson said. Guterres has openly criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it is in violation of the U.N. Charter. He launched an initiative to explore the possibility of a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine in late May.
According to his spokesperson, Guterres said he wants to discuss “urgent steps to bring about peace in Ukraine and the future of multilateralism” with both countries, in what he said was a “time of great peril and consequence.”
Tuesday, Guterres called for the four-day pause beginning today to observe Holy Week in the Orthodox Christian tradition. He said it was even more necessary given the intensified attacks in eastern Ukraine this week.
– Celina Tebor
Contributing: The Associated Press