Mariupol defenders resist Russian ultimatum

STORY: A deadline for Ukrainian troops holed-up in Mariupol to lay down their arms came and went on Sunday (April 17).

Russia issued the ultimatum for the out-numbered soldiers who have been defending the smoldering Azovstal steelworks.

But several hours after the deadline, in the early hours of the morning, and there was no sign of surrender.

Azovstal - one of Europe's largest metallurgical plants - has become a last stand for the defending forces.

Moscow says its solders have cleared the urban area of Mariupol and are almost completely in control.

Having failed to overcome Ukrainian resistance in the north, the Russian military is now focused on Donbas.

Capturing the eastern region's main port city would be a major strategic prize for Russia - connecting territory it holds in Donbas with the Crimea region it annexed in 2014.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his government was in contact with the troops at Azovstal.

Speaking on Saturday (April 16) he accused Russia of trying to "destroy everyone" in Mariupol and said killing the soldiers would put paid to peace efforts.

It's unclear how many soldiers are inside the steelworks. Satellite images have shown smoke and fire coming from the area, which is riddled with tunnels underneath.

Meanwhile Russia continued with long-range attacks on other locations in Ukraine, all part of what it calls a special military operation.

Local media reported an explosion in Kyiv, though the capital's deputy mayor said air defense systems had thwarted Russian attacks.

The mayor of the nearby city Brovary said a missile attack had damaged infrastructure.

According to the RIA news agency, Russia said it had destroyed an ammunition factory near the capital.

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