War in Ukraine: Latest developments
KYIV, Ukraine, May 17, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:
- Hundreds of Mariupol defenders surrender -
Russia says that 265 of the Ukrainian fighters who had been holding out at a steelworks in the city of Mariupol for weeks have surrendered under a deal struck with Kyiv.
Russia's defence ministry says 51 of them were heavily wounded and were taken to a hospital in a part of the eastern Donetsk region controlled by pro-Russian rebels.
Ukrainian authorities say the fighters were taken to areas under the control of Russian forces or pro-Russian rebels and will be exchanged at a later date for Russian prisoners.
It says it is working to "rescue" the last holdouts inside the sprawling Azovstal steel plant.
Azovstal became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, with the fighters holding out in dire conditions for weeks after the city fell to Russian forces.
- Onslaught on Donbas city -
At least 10 people are killed in the shelling of Severodonetsk, the easternmost city still held by Ukrainian forces, which is the object of a major Russian offensive.
The governor of the Lugansk administrative region, where Severodonestk is located, says Russian forces are shelling the city "without stopping".
But Russia's attempt to completely encircle it has been repelled, with Ukrainian forces blowing up railway bridges to slow their advance.
Taking control of Severodonetsk would grant the Kremlin de facto control of Lugansk, one of two breakaway regions -- along with Donetsk -- that comprise the Donbas, which Russia has vowed to "liberate" from Ukraine.
Ukraine says that after being driven back from the city of Kharkiv in the northeast, Russian troops are being transferred to Lugansk to boost the fight there.
- Russian forces 'to reopen Mariupol port' -
As the battle for the strategic southeastern city of Mariupol draws to a close, Russian forces are planning to reopen the city's port to establish shipping routes from Russia, the US Institute for War reports.
The ISW, a defence think-tank, quoted the pro-Russian separatists who have been leading the fighting against Ukrainian forces in Mariupol as saying that they will demine the port by May 25.
Controlling the port on the Sea of Azov is seen by the Kremlin-backed rebels, who have been fighting government forces since 2014, as key to making the economy of the Donbas sustainable in the long-term.