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Mariupol situation: Ukraine rejects surrender ultimatum, Russia declares “removal” of resistance forces

The Defense Ministry statement said that Ukrainian soldiers besieged at the Azovstal plant “have been offered to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender in order to save their lives.”

“However, the Kiev nationalist regime has banned negotiations on surrender,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Russian side also confirmed that according to Ukrainian soldiers who had surrendered earlier, “up to 400 foreign mercenaries who joined the Ukrainian forces” were trapped at the factory. including Europeans and Canadians.

“In the event of continued resistance, all of them will be eliminated,” it said.

Today, Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, rejected Russia’s ultimatum. Andriushchenko said on Telegram that “as of today, our soldiers continue to organize the defense”.

Mariupol situation: Ukraine rejects surrender ultimatum, Russia announces

Mariupol taken from above on April 12. Photo: CNN.

Mariupol was besieged for over a month, with heavy casualties and much of the city destroyed by shelling. The military governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, where Mariupol is located, said on April 12 that up to 22,000 people may have been killed in the city. CNN was unable to verify these numbers, as there are no independent casualty figures from the fighting in the city.

Although many people have fled, an estimated 100,000 people remain in Mariupol and the surrounding areas, which are believed to be largely under Russian control.

A number of Ukrainian army soldiers are also besieged in the city and are having to hold out against the onslaught of Russia despite overwhelming odds.

According to Russian media, most of Ukraine’s defense troops are located in the Azovstal steel plant, one of the largest in Europe with a network of rails and furnaces. Mayor adviser Mariupol Andriushchenko said resistance to Russia continued outside the factory.

He alleged that during the fighting, the Russian side shelled civilian houses with heavy artillery. The shelling of the port area also continued.

In a speech on the night of April 16, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zekensky called the situation in Mariupol “inhumane” and “as dire as possible.” He and his administration were trying day by day to end the siege through both military and diplomatic avenues, he said.

“Russia is deliberately destroying everyone present in Mariupol,” he said in the video address.

In a separate article published on the president’s website, Zelensky said he was open to talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin – but talks would not be possible if the “war crimes” continued.

On April 16, the Russian military announced they had entered Mariupol. Russian military spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said: “The Russian army and Donetsk militia units have completely liberated the Illich steel plant from Ukrainian nationalists thanks to the attack on the city. Mariupol Street”. CNN was unable to independently verify that claim.

One of the unit commanders in Mariupol admitted that some of the Ukrainian garrison had surrendered.

In a statement earlier this week, members of the Ukrainian Marines posted a video claiming to vow to fight “until the last minute”, despite being surrounded by Russian forces and lacking in supplies. “We didn’t give up our position,” the 36th Marine Brigade said in the video.

Ukrainian officials have warned of a major humanitarian emergency in Mariupol as food and water run out, electricity and gas are cut off, and urged the establishment of evacuation corridors to allow civilians to escape. exit.

But on April 17, no route was established because Ukrainian officials could not reach an agreement with the Russian side.

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