Ukraine has categorically rejected the fiery Russian ultimatum to lay down arms and surrender the key port city of Mariupol where fighting has been raging for weeks on end. Russia had warned of severe consequences if the Ukrainian soldiers did not lay down arms and leave city using a temporary offer of a green corridor.
However, Ukraine defiantly rejected the ultimatum, raising fears about an amped up Russian attack on Mariupol.
There can be no Talk of any Surrender
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said a surrender is comprehensively ruled out. "There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this," the deputy prime minister told the Ukrainian Pravda.Mo
Moscow had set Ukraine a stiff timeline for surrendering Mariupol. State news agency RIA said Ukraine had time until a 2 am local time on Monday morning to quit fighting for the city and lay down arms. Russia's defense ministry also demanded a written response from the Ukraine military. Russia said anyone who refuses to surrender will be seen as siding with 'bandits'.
Interestingly, the Russian ultimatum was issued hours after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was willing to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and warning that the failure to arrive at a negotiated agreement could lead to a third World War.
On Sunday, Russia stepped up attack on the besieged city of Mariupol. An art school in the city, where about 400 people were sheltering, was bombed on Sunday. The city council said confirmed the building was destroyed in the attack. The bombing of the art school came days after the missile strike on a theater where hundreds of people had taken refuge.
Ukraine's Azov battalion said Russian bombs are hitting Mariupol every 10 minutes. Apart from artillery fire, Russia has started attack from the sea, which Russian ships shelling the city.
In the communique demanding the surrender, Russia has specified that Ukrainian soldiers should lay down the weapons and retreat from Mariupol, failing which the the safe evacuation of civilians is not guaranteed.
Terrible Humanitarian Catastrophe
The Russian Ministry of Defence said it wanted a written response from Kyiv before 5am. "A terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed.All who lay down their arms are guaranteed safe passage out of Mariupol," Colonel-General Mizintsev said.
However, Vereshchuk said Russia should forget about Mariupol surrender and open humanitarian corridor, instead of wasting time on drafting 'an eight-page letter'.
"There can be no question of surrendering or laying down weapons. We have already informed the Russian side about this. I wrote:" Instead of wasting time on eight-page letters, just open the corridor," the deputy prime minister said, according to Ukrinfo.net.
Vereshchuk added: "There are eight pages of revisiting history and other delusional things. They have sent the same letter to the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and hoped that international organizations would react and start exerting pressure on Ukraine. This didn't happen. ICRC and UN understand that this is Russian manipulation, and that this is hostage-taking."
The minister said the Russian demand was deliberate manipulation and and akin to a "real hostage-taking."