VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY has warned the war in Ukraine could become an “endless bloodbath” as around 1,000 of his troops reportedly surrendered in Mariupol
Strategists believe the southern port city could fall to Russia today, on Wednesday, April 13, after Ukrainian forces said earlier this week “any resources have a potential to run out”. Russia’s Defence Ministry said 1,026 Ukrainian soldiers of the 36th Marine Brigade “voluntarily laid down arms and surrendered” following “successful offensives by Russian armed forces”, in what, if true, will come as a major blow to Kyiv.
The marines were holding the Azovstal industrial district, and it is understood Russian control of this area would soon result in a full taking of the city.
Defence analyst Professor Michael Clarke said the fall of Mariupol was now “down to hours… not days”.
He told Sky News: “I’d be surprised if Mariupol isn’t in Russian hands by this time tomorrow.”
Reports of a mass surrender by Ukrainian forces has not been contradicted.
Russia said 162 officers were among those who laid down their arms.
This comes after the brigade warned on Monday, April 11, they were running out of ammunition and had been forced to take resources from their Russian enemies.
In a post on their official Facebook page, marines told how “for more than a month, the Marines fought without refilling ammunition, without food, without water, almost a lacquer from the puddle and died in packs”.
They added: “Without the possibility of defending themselves, the opponent gradually pushed us to the Azovmash plant, surrounded the fire and now is trying to destroy us.”
Following reports of their surrender, President Zelensky stressed the war could become an “endless bloodbath” unless more resources are provided from elsewhere.
He wrote in a post on Twitter: “Without additional weaponry, this war will become an endless bloodbath, spreading misery, suffering and destruction.
“Mariupol, Bucha, Kramatorsk – the list will be continued. Nobody will stop Russia except Ukraine with Heavy Weapons.”
The potential fall of Mariupol is understood to represent a major gain for Russian forces and to make all the more difficult Ukraine’s defensive capabilities.
Professor Clarke described the area as Russia’s “southern anchor for their big push”.
He said: “It will take some time to do but if they can defeat the Ukrainians in Mariupol they can release probably half of their forces there, at least 6,000 or maybe 8,000 troops, to start to push north in this big offensive.”
Footage from Mariupol shows the city has been the victim of heavy bombing and the United Nations is now probing “increasing information on mass graves that are there”.
Matilda Bogner, the body’s Head of Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, said: “The extent of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian objects strongly suggests that the principles of distinction, of proportionality, the rule on feasible precautions and the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks have been violated.”
Petro Andriuschenko, an advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol, told the BBC Russia’s claims were “impossible”.
The exact picture of what is happening in the area – and, perhaps, more importantly, who controls it – remains unclear.