Broken and burned cars in a parking lot near a residential building in Mariupol (Picture: Anatoliy Zhdanov/Kommersant/Sipa USA/Alamy Stock Photo).
Ukraine

Russian forces' ultimate objective remains the same after shifted forces

Reports have suggested that Russia says it will spare the lives of Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol if they lay down their arms today.

Broken and burned cars in a parking lot near a residential building in Mariupol (Picture: Anatoliy Zhdanov/Kommersant/Sipa USA/Alamy Stock Photo).

Russia's ultimate objective of asserting its regional dominance and forcing Ukraine to abandon any "Euro-Atlantic orientation" remains the same despite its shifted "operational focus" to eastern Ukraine.

According to the latest Ministry of Defence (MOD) intelligence report, Russian artillery continues to strike Ukrainian positions throughout the east of the country where Russia plans to renew its offensive activity.

Russian forces continued to redeploy combat and support equipment from Belarus towards eastern Ukraine, including locations close to Kharkiv and Severdonetsk, according to the MOD.

Reports have suggested that Russia says it will spare the lives of Ukrainian soldiers in Maripol if they lay down their arms today. 

Russia's defence ministry said if Ukrainian forces still fighting in Mariupol lay down their arms starting at 6 am Moscow time (03:00 GMT) their lives will be spared.

"Taking into account the catastrophic situation that has developed at the Azovstal metallurgical plant, as well as being guided by purely humane principles, the Russian Armed Forces offer the militants of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries from 06:00 (Moscow time) on April 17, 2022, to stop any hostilities and lay down their arms," the defence ministry said in a statement.

"All who lay down their arms are guaranteed that their lives will be spared."

Watch: Residents escaping from Mariupol.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has however told Ukraine's media that the continuing siege of Mariupol could scuttle any attempts to find a negotiated 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," Mr Zelensky said in an interview.

The president's office said the southern port city is holding out but the situation is critical.

The city of Mariupol has been high on the objectives for Moscow and its capture would enable Russia to set up a land corridor to Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

It would also deny Ukraine a major port and prized industrial assets.