Earlier in the week, 1,160 Ukrainian soldiers, including 176 officers, of the 36th Marine Brigade surrendered in Mariupol. The Russian Defence Ministry said it was ready to allow all Ukrainian troops to withdraw through humanitarian corridors and promised to spare Ukrainian nationalists who agree to lay down arms. The Ukrainian side declined the offer.
Mariupol, a coastal city in the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) with a population of 450,000, went under the control of Ukrainian troops during the 2014 offensive. On 7 March, a senior DPR military said that Russian and DPR forces have surrounded the city and are clearing it of Ukrainian troops, including the neo-Nazi Azov battalion.
Russia launched a military operation last month with the stated goal of putting an end to war crimes committed by Ukrainian troops against civilians during an eight-year offensive against Donbass.
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