KYIV, Ukraine — The battered port city of Mariupol appears on the brink of falling to Russian forces after seven weeks under siege.
Capturing the city would give Moscow a crucial success in Ukraine following a botched attempt to storm the capital and the loss of the Russian navy’s Black Sea flagship.
The Russian military estimated that about 2,500 Ukrainian fighters holding out at a hulking steel plant provided the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson said those who refuse to surrender by a Sunday deadline "will be destroyed.”
Seizing Mariupol would free up Russian forces for an offensive in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has focused after the failure to take Kyiv.