Ukrainian officials have rejected a Russian demand that its forces in the besieged strategic port city of Mariupol lay down arms and hoist white flags in exchange for a safe exit.
According to Ukrainian officials, Russia bombed the encircled southern city on the Sea of Azov and hit an art school that housed about 400 people just hours before it offered to open two corridors out of the city in exchange for the surrender of its defenders.
The battle for Mariupol remains intense, even as the Russian offensive in other areas has failed to the extent that Western governments and analysts are now viewing the broader conflict as a war of attrition.
Ukrainian officials dismissed the Russian proposal for safe passage from Mariupol even before Moscow’s 5 a.m. (3 a.m. Dublin) deadline for a response came and went.
“There can be no question of capitulation and laying down arms,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk told the Ukrainian Pravda news agency. “We have already informed the Russian side about this.”
The mayor of Mariupol, Piotr Andryushchenko, also rejected the offer shortly after it was made. He said in a Facebook post he didn’t have to wait until the morning appointment to reply and berated the Russians, according to the Interfax news agency Ukraine.
Russian Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev had offered two corridors – one east towards Russia and the other west towards other parts of Ukraine. He did not say what action Russia intends to take if the offer is rejected.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said authorities in Mariupol could face a military tribunal if they side with what it calls “bandits,” Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Previous attempts to allow residents to evacuate Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities have failed or only partially succeeded, with bombing continuing as civilians attempted to flee.
Tearful evacuees from the devastated city have described how “fighting took place on every street”.
“Forced to go to Russia”
Ukraine’s government said yesterday thousands of Mariupol residents were being “forced” against their will across the border to remote Russian towns as invading forces tightened their grip on the besieged port.
The city’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said the deportations were an echo of historical transports.
“What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people,” he said in a statement.
“It’s hard to imagine people being forcibly transferred to another country in the 21st century.”
Huge explosion in Kiev residential area
The shelling in a Kiev district devastated a shopping center on Monday morning and left a devastated ruin amid high-rise towers.
Emergency services reported that at least four people were killed by the night’s shelling near the city center late Sunday. The force of the blast shattered all the windows in the high-rise building next door, twisting their metal frames.
Artillery fire rang out in the distance as firefighters made their way through the destruction in the densely populated Podil district.
Mariupol was devastated by bombing and had no electricity, water or food supplies for three weeks as Russia attempted to seize the port city of nearly half a million people.
His forces entered the city center over the weekend and appeared to take control of the battered but strategically important city.
Before the latest bid, a Russian airstrike hit the school where about 400 civilians were sheltering and it was not clear how many casualties there were, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address early Monday.
“They lie under the rubble and we don’t know how many of them survived,” he said.
The fall of Mariupol would allow Russian forces in southern and eastern Ukraine to combine.
But Western military analysts say that even if the surrounded city is taken, the troops battling for control block by block there may be too exhausted to ensure a Russian breakthrough on other fronts.
Ukrainians “didn’t greet Russian soldiers with a bouquet of flowers,” Zelensky told CNN, but with “guns in hand.”
Three weeks into the invasion, both sides now appear to be trying to wear each other down, experts say deadlocked Russian forces firing long-range missiles at cities and military bases, while Ukrainian forces conducted hit-and-run attacks and attempted to cut their supply lines.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s president compared Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to Hitler’s “final solution” when he attacked Israel’s “indifference” to Kyiv in an address to the country’s lawmakers.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose family lost relatives during the Holocaust, told the Knesset in a video address: “Listen to what the Kremlin says, they use the same terminology as the NSDAP. It’s a tragedy.
“When they tried to destroy all of Europe, they didn’t want to leave any of you behind…they called it the ‘final solution’ of the Jewish question. I am sure you will never forget it. What are they saying now in Moscow?
“They use the same words, the same terminology, ‘the final solution,’ but now they’re addressing it to us.”
Israel has cautiously taken a neutral stance on the conflict in Ukraine, citing its need for ties with both Moscow and Kyiv and trying to maintain ties with Russian forces in neighboring Syria.
One in nine people in Israel has ancestral links to the Soviet Union. “What is it? Indifference? Political calculus? Mediation without choosing sides?” asked Mr. Zelensky.
He urged Israeli MPs to abandon their neutral stance and equip Kyiv with an Iron Dome defense system to protect civilians from Russian airstrikes.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ukraine-rejects-ultimatum-for-mariupol-surrender-after-russian-forces-shell-art-school-and-huge-explosion-hits-kyiv-41469424.html Ukraine rejects ultimatum for Mariupol’s surrender after Russian forces shelled art school and Kyiv was hit by a massive blast