Russia has given Ukrainian forces a deadline of 5 am Moscow time (2 am GMT) on Monday to lay down their arms in the eastern port city of Mariupol, where it said a “terrible humanitarian catastrophe” was unfolding.
“Lay down your arms,” Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Defence Management Center, said on Sunday in a briefing. “A terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed,” he said. “All who lay down their arms are guaranteed safe passage out of Mariupol.”
The deadline was quickly rejected by Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk saying that there can be “no question” of surrender. “There can be no talk of any surrenders, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this,” she said, according to online news site Ukrainska Pravda. “Instead of wasting time on 8 pages of letters, just open a [humanitarian] corridor.”
Mariupol, a port city in southeastern Ukraine, has experienced some of the worst attacks of the war. The city of nearly half a million people has been bombarded and surrounded by Russian forces, leaving many without food, water, or electricity. Ukrainian officials have said multiple civilian targets in the city were attacked by Russian forces, including a theater sheltering more than 1,000 people and an art school sheltering over 400.
Mizintsev said if Ukrainian forces in Mariupol agreed to surrender by 5 a.m. on Monday, Moscow time, humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave the city would be opened at 10 a.m. Moscow time, according to Yahoo. But Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Russia of shelling supposed humanitarian corridors.
Mizintsev also said “bandits” and “neo-Nazis” had been killing people in Mariupol, Reuters reported, but he did not provide any evidence for the claims.
“We appeal to the odious bandits, who are responsible for hundreds of lives of innocent people, and now call themselves representatives of the official local authorities, of this unique city Mariupol,” Mizintsev said, according to Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti, per CNN:
“We are aware that in the current situation little depends on you, since you are under the full control of nationalist battalions, but we very much hope that you, including the mayor of the city, have at least something human in you left, at least a sense of compassion for the civilians entrusted to you.”