RUSSIA,UKRAINE: Moscow claims to have taken over the control of Mariupol, news agency reports reported. Russia said its troops had cleared the urban area of Mariupol and only a small contingent of Ukrainian fighters remained inside a steelworks in the besieged southern port on Saturday.
The claim is yet to be verified by global defence experts. If Moscow’s claims are correct, then Mariupol would be the first big city to fall to the Russians so far.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainian media that the continuing siege of Mariupol could ruin attempts to negotiate an end to the war.
“The destruction of all our guys in Mariupol — what they are doing now — can put an end to any format of negotiations,” he was quoted as saying on Saturday by news agency AP. Zelensky further said that Ukraine needs more support from the West to have a chance at saving Mariupol.
Meanwhile, Moscow on Saturday announced it was banning entry to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several other top UK officials, after London imposed sanctions on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine.
“This step was taken as a response to London’s unbridled information and political campaign aimed at isolating Russia internationally, creating conditions for restricting our country and strangling the domestic economy,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. Russia’s entry blacklist includes UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, former Prime Minister Theresa May and the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.
Meanwhile, Russia pounded a Ukrainian rocket factory after losing an iconic warship in the Black Sea, as the Pentagon on Friday backed Kyiv’s claim to have sunk the Moskva with cruise missiles.
The Vizar plant, near the capital’s international airport, was seriously damaged in the overnight strikes, a journalist saw.
Russia said it had used sea-based long-range missiles to hit the factory, which Ukraine’s state weapons manufacturer says produced Neptune cruise missiles.
A Pentagon official briefing reporters said Ukraine had hit the Moskva with two Neptunes — contradicting Russia’s claim that the ship lost balance in rough seas as it was towed to port after ammunition exploded.
-THE HINDUSTAN TIMES