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Russia urges Ukrainian forces to ‘immediately lay down arms’


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Russia on Tuesday called on Ukrainian forces to “immediately lay down arms” and issued a new ultimatum for the defenders of the besieged port city of Mariupol to give up their resistance.

The Russian defence ministry called on Kyiv to show “reason and give the corresponding orders to fighters to cease their senseless resistance”, adding that defenders of Mariupol would be “guaranteed survival” if they laid down their arms starting at noon (0900 GMT).

Russia’s forces carried out dozens of airstrikes in eastern Ukraine overnight after Ukrainian officials said Moscow had launched a major offensive, the defence ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry said that “high-precision air-based missiles” had hit 13 Ukrainian positions in parts of the Donbas, including the key town of Slovyansk, and that other air strikes “hit 60 military assets of Ukraine”, including in towns close to the eastern frontline.

It said Russian troops destroyed two warehouses containing warheads of Tochka-U tactical missiles in Chervona Polyana, in the region of Lugansk, and in Balakliia in the Kharkiv region.

A total of 1,260 military targets were hit by rockets and artillery overnight, the ministry said in a statement.

“Russian air defence systems shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter near the village of Malynivka in the Donetsk region,” the statement added.

Late Monday, authorities in Kyiv said that Russia had launched a major offensive in eastern Ukraine, opening a new phase of its nearly two-month military campaign.

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