Kyiv has 'no information' after Russia claims Ukrainian marines surrendered in Mariupol
Ukrainian defence ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk on Wednesday said he had no information about the surrender of a Ukrainian marine brigade in Mariupol that was earlier reported by Russia's defence ministry.
"I don't have information," Motuzyanyk said in a message in reply to a request for comment after Russia claimed that 1,026 soldiers from Ukraine's 36th Marine Brigade had surrendered in the besieged southern port city.
'Till the end... Ukraine, Europe, the world... We believe in victory, we believe until the end': Ukrainian marines, surrounded in Mariupol, recorded this emotional video. They are besieged, outnumbered, unable to get weapons, but they are still holding, almost two months in 💔 https://t.co/NY4mI31VHC— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) April 12, 2022
Mariupol, which has been encircled by Russian troops for weeks, has seen the fiercest fighting and the most comprehensive destruction since Russia invaded on 24 February.
The main Sea of Azov port is the biggest target in the eastern Donbas region that Moscow now calls the focus of its campaign, and if captured would be the first major city to fall since the war began. Its capture would help secure a land passage between separatist-held eastern areas and Crimea which Russia seized and annexed in 2014.
"In the town of Mariupol, near the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works, as a result of successful offensives by Russian armed forces and Donetsk People's Republic militia units, 1,026 Ukrainian soldiers of the 36th Marine Brigade voluntarily laid down arms and surrendered," the ministry said in a statement.
On Monday, a post on the Ukrainian marine brigade's Facebook page had said the unit was preparing for a final battle in Mariupol that would end in death or capture as its troops had run out of ammunition.
"Today will probably be the ultimate battle, as there is no ammo left," said the post. "Beyond that: hand to hand fighting. Beyond that, for some death, for others capture."
Some Ukrainian officials said at the time that the post may have been false, and that troops were still holding out.
The Russian defence ministry said 151 wounded Ukrainian soldiers were treated on the spot and taken to Mariupol's city hospital.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who says his forces are playing a major role in Russia's battle for Mariupol, said more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines had surrendered. He urged the remaining forces holed up in the Azovstal steel mill to surrender.
Reuters journalists accompanying Russian-backed separatists in Mariupol on Tuesday saw flames rising from the Azovstal complex.