Troops in Mariupol steel plant ‘outnumbered 10 to one’ by Russians – as Zelenskyy says more weapons would have ‘ended war’

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Ukrainian forces are continuing to repel attacks by Russian forces in the east of the country, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said, as President Zelenskyy renewed calls for more military assistance. 

Russia has recently started repositioning and reinforcing its troops in the east of Ukraine after failing to take control of the country’s capital, Kyiv.

If successful, the Russian offensive, in what is known as the Donbas, would essentially slice Ukraine in two and give Russia’s President Vladimir Putin a badly needed victory.

But according to the MoD, Russia’s ability to progress continues to be impacted by “logistical and technical challenges”, as well as the “resilience of the highly-motivated Ukrainian armed forces”.

Live updates on the war in Ukraine

One of the areas that has been targeted is the eastern city of Kharkiv, which saw at least four people killed and 14 wounded during a shelling attack on Tuesday night.

Other developments
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Kharkiv will not fall to Russia, says Ukrainian official

However, the head of Ukraine’s security service said the region will not fall into Russian hands as Ukrainian forces are more prepared for battle.

“We were able to withstand the first and scariest assault and now the whole country understands (the dangers), men are mobilised, people can and know how to fight and understand what to do,” Roman Dudin said.

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The battle for the Donbas begins

“They (Russian forces) don’t understand that no one wants them here. Children, old people, men, women. Even ducks don’t want to see these occupiers here. So death will be waiting for them from at every corner, every opening,” he added.

Kharkiv, which is the country’s second-largest city, has come under a barrage of attacks since the war started.

The eastern city of Kramatorsk has also come under fire, with Russia claiming to have struck areas around Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro, west of the Donbas, with missiles as well.

Read more: Russia launches attacks along 300-mile eastern front as battle for Donbas begins

Russia calls for ceasefire around steel plant but claims Ukraine has not responded

In the now-devastated port city of Mariupol, which has been a key target for Putin’s forces, Ukrainian troops said the Russian military dropped heavy bombs to flatten what was left of a steel plant and hit a hospital where hundreds were staying.

An armoured vehicle of pro-Russian troops drivers along a street during fighting in Ukraine-Russia conflict near a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works company in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 12, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
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Russia’s defence ministry said it has called for a ceasefire around the Azovstal steel plant

Tens of thousands of residents have been trapped in the city with no access to food or water and Ukraine believes
more than 20,000 civilians have died there since the war began.

Russia’s defence ministry said it has called for a ceasefire around the Azovstal plant to take place on Wednesday but claimed not a single Ukrainian soldier has accepted the proposal.

Explainer: What sanctions are different countries around the world imposing on Russia and will they work?

If Ukraine had weapons ‘comparable’ to those used by Russia, war would be over – Zelenskyy

Late on Tuesday night, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his daily address to warn that the Russian military is throwing everything into the battle for the eastern part of the country.

He called on the international community to provide more military assistance to Ukraine, saying if it had weapons that were “comparable” to those used by Russia, then the war would be over already.

“We would have restored peace and liberated our territory from the occupants because the superiority of the Ukrainian military in tactics and wisdom is quite obvious,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

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He added that the situation in Mariupol remains “unchanged” and “extremely severe”, accusing the Russian army of blocking humanitarian corridors to stop civilians from escaping the city safely.

“Purposefully killing civilians, destroying residential neighbourhoods, civilian infrastructure, and using all kinds of weapons, including those prohibited by international conventions, is the Russian army’s modus operandi.

“It’s that villainy, which for generations will mark the Russian state as a source of absolute evil,” the president said.

The United States, the UK and Canada have all pledged to send more military weaponry to the war-torn country, and the White House has said new sanctions are being prepared.

The move from the three countries came after a call with allied leaders to discuss the need to provide further economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

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