Russia advances in Ukraine’s Donbas as Mariupol steelworks siege ends
The Russian military said on Saturday it had destroyed a major consignment of Western arms in Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region, west of Kyiv, using sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles.
The defense ministry said in a statement the strike took out “a large batch of weapons and military equipment delivered from the US and European countries” and intended for Ukrainian troops in the eastern Donbas region where the fighting is concentrated.
Reuters could not independently verify the report, which also said Russian missiles had struck fuel storage facilities near Odesa on the Black Sea coast and shot down two Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft and 14 drones.
In its latest update on the war, which Russia calls a “special military operation”, the defence ministry also said Russia had struck numerous Ukrainian command posts.
The west has stepped up weapons supplies to Ukraine since Russia’s February 24th invasion and Russia’s military is trying to intercept and destroy them. Moscow says western arms deliveries for Kyiv, and the imposition of drastic sanctions against the Russian economy, amount to a “proxy war” by the US and its allies.
Earlier, Russia’s defence ministry said the last Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol’s smashed Azovstal steelworks surrendered on Friday. That ended the most destructive siege of the war.
“The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant … has been completely liberated,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days, including 531 in the final group.
Hours earlier, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the last defenders at the steelworks had been told by Ukraine’s military that they could get out and save their lives. The Ukrainians did not immediately confirm the figures on Azovstal.
Ukraine’s general staff of armed forces did not comment on Russia’s claim in its morning update on Saturday.
Russia also launched what appeared to be a major assault to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Luhansk, one of two southeastern Ukrainian provinces Moscow proclaims as independent states.