Russia vows its forces will 'liberate' Mariupol from nationalists

Russians persists in Mariupol, separatist regions • Ukraine: Attacks against Mykolayiv break war laws • Russian morale decreasing

 A view shows an armoured convoy of pro-Russian troops in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road leading to the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 28, 2022. (photo credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
A view shows an armoured convoy of pro-Russian troops in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road leading to the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 28, 2022.
(photo credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russia 'offers' Ukraine to lay down arms and leave Mariupol

Russian forces and the troops of the Donetsk People’s Republic will liberate Mariupol from nationalists as Ukraine ignores proposals to pull its units out of the city. Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.

Konashenkov said Moscow has repeatedly offered Ukraine a chance for Ukrainian troops that lay down arms to walk out of the city. The offer was again extended on Tuesday morning.

"However, these proposals are constantly ignored by the Kyiv regime," Konashenkov told reporters. "Given Kyiv's lack of interest in saving the lives of its troops, Mariupol will be liberated from nationalists by Russian armed forces units and the forces of the Donetsk People's Republic."

Russia and Ukraine exchange prisoners

Russia and Ukraine held an exchange in the format of 86 to 86 people, Tatyana Moskalkova, the commissioner for human rights in the Russian Federation, told reporters on Tuesday during a working trip to the Vladimir region.

"The last exchange was 86 for 86," she said, without specifying who was on the exchange lists.

In addition, the Russian side is working on the return of sailors and truckers who ended up on the territory of Ukraine, Moskalkova added.

The exchange of four Rosatom employees remaining in Ukraine fell through at the last moment, she said. 

The offensive continues in major cities

The Russian Army continued to blockade Kharkiv, upping artillery shelling and further destroying the city's residential neighborhoods and infrastructure, according to an intelligence report by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine circulated on Tuesday.

In the Donetsk and Luhansk separatist areas, among other operations, the Russian forces focused their efforts on establishing full control over Mariupol, which was struck with massive artillery and airstrikes.

In addition, Russian troops carried out attacks of Mykolayiv with cluster munitions forbidden by international law, the report said. Civilian quarters and medical facilities, including a children's hospital, came under fire, and there were dead and wounded among the non-combatants, including children.

Russian Army faltering

The report added that Russian forces continue to suffer losses and are experiencing big problems with the staffing of combat units and support units. Russian personnel were demoralized, which has led to an increase in the number of desertions and the refusal of Russian servicemen to take part in the war.

Bucha Massacre

Ukraine said 50 bodies found in Bucha had been victims of extra-judicial killings by Russian troops. Reuters could not verify the events, but its journalists saw the bodies of civilians scattered over the town at the weekend. Satellite images showed a 14-meter-long trench dug in the grounds of a church where a mass grave was found. 

According to the UK's intelligence update on Tuesday, Ukrainian forces retook key areas in northern Ukraine, and while low-level fighting will probably continue, it will diminish significantly.

Many Russian unit withdrawing from northern Ukraine probably will need to re-equip and resupply in order to launch a new offensive, the update said. 

The Kremlin has categorically denied any accusations related to the murder of civilians in the town, saying the graves and corpses had been staged by Ukraine to tarnish Russia and were present only after Russian troops withdrew from the area.

Russia said it would present to the UN Security Council "empirical evidence" of what it called lies by Ukraine and its Western sponsors, while the US said it would push for Russia to be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council.

New York Times visual investigators estimated, from the satellite images circulated on Monday, that the corpses had bee there for at least three weeks, dating the dead bodies to a time when the area was controlled by the Russian military. 

Russian claims of destroyed military targets and equipment

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military claims it has destroyed 398 drones, 214 multiple rocket launchers, and 1,969 tanks and other armored vehicles, official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov told TASS reporters on Tuesday.

"In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, 125 aircraft, 91 helicopters, 398 unmanned aerial vehicles, 226 anti-aircraft missile systems, 1,969 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 214 multiple rocket launchers, 852 field artillery vehicles and mortars, as well as 1,873 special military vehicles," he said.

Russian Air Forces have allegedly struck 134 Ukrainian military targets overnight, including eight command posts, a S-300 SAM guidance radar and the Tochka-U complex, Konashenkov added.

Try Russia for war crimes in separate court - Ukrainian official

A Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Tuesday a separate court should be set up to handle crimes committed during the war in Ukraine along the lines of the Hague-based court that prosecuted war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia.

Speaking on national television, adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the court would need to handle cases including the alleged killing of civilians by Russian troops in the Kyiv region town of Bucha. Russia has described the allegations as "fake news."

CNN team comes under fire

A CNN team reporting near Mykolaiv came under artillery fire and had to run for cover, CNN reported.