KYIV/MARIUPOL: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that his country could not fulfil “Russian ultimatums”, claiming Moscow was seeking to “destroy” his country.
He said Moscow wanted Ukraine to “hand over” Kharkiv, Mariupol and Kyiv, adding that neither the people of those cities “or me, as president, can do this”.
Ukrainian officials defiantly rejected a Russian demand that their forces in Mariupol lay down arms and raise white flags on Monday in exchange for safe passage out of the besieged strategic port city.
Ukrainian officials rejected the Russian proposal for safe passage out of Mariupol even before Russia’s 0200 GMT deadline for a response came and went.
“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk told the news outlet Ukrainian Pravda. “We have already informed the Russian side about this.
Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev had offered two corridors one heading east toward Russia and the other west to other parts of Ukraine. He did not say what Russia planned to do if the offer was rejected.
The Russian Ministry of Defence said authorities in Mariupol could face a military tribunal if they sided with what it described as bandits, the Russian state news agency reported.
Meanwhile, people fleeing the besieged port of Mariupol say they are leaving behind a city that has been almost entirely destroyed by Russian bombardment and heavy fighting.
Video captured by The Associated Press showed residents pushing carts and carrying bags of food and supplies along debris-ridden streets and passages. The siege has caused shortages of food, water and energy supplies, according to city officials who say at least 2,300 civilians have been killed thus far in Mariupol.
In Kyiv, shelling has devastated a shopping centre, leaving a flattened ruin still smouldering on Monday morning in the midst of high-rise towers.
Overnight shelling near the city centre left at least eight dead, emergency officials said. The force of the explosion shattered every window in the high-rise next door and twisted their metal frames.
A cluster of villages on Kyiv’s northwest edge is on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe, regional officials said Monday.
Bucha and other nearby villages have been all but cut off by Russian forces.
At the same time, authorities in Odessa have accused Russian forces of damaging civilian houses in a strike on the Black Sea port city on Monday.