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Ukraine Rejects Putin’s Order To Surrender Mariupol

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Ukraine has rejected Russian demands to surrender the besieged city of Mariupol where thousands of civilians have been trapped since the early days of the war.

Russia has bombarded the strategically important port city from land, sea and air, and offered residents a safe passage out if a white flag was waved by the early hours of Monday morning local time. Ukraine dismissed the offer and the 5 am deadline passed.

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This morning’s key developments:

• President Biden will call Boris Johnson and the leaders of France, Germany and Italy to discuss the next steps in their response to Russia.

• Following a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels this week, Biden will travel to Poland on Friday where he will speak with his Polish counterpart.

• The US said it can further increase the pressure on Russia by widening the scope of the already sweeping sanctions imposed following the invasion.

• A Russian bombardment in Kyiv’s Podilskyi district damaged a shopping centre and homes, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said, adding one person was killed.

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Iryna Vereshchuk, a deputy prime minister, told the news outlet Ukrainian Pravda: “There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this.”

Referencing the Russian offer, which was made in an eight-page document, Vereshchuk added: “I wrote: `Instead of wasting time on eight pages of letters, just open the corridor.’”

Piotr Andryushchenko, the mayor of Mariupol, also dismissed the demand for surrender, according to the news agency Interfax Ukraine.

The Russian military said it would allow two corridors out of Mariupol, leading either east towards Russia or west to other parts of Ukraine.

It did not say what would happen if the offer was rejected.

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Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management, said without offering evidence that Ukrainian “bandits”, “neo-Nazis” and nationalists had engaged in “mass terror” and embarked on a killing spree in the city.

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“A terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed,” Mizintsev said. “All who lay down their arms are guaranteed safe passage out of Mariupol.”

The city, which if seized by Russia would give the invading forces control over much of Ukraine’s southern coast, has suffered a deadly bombardment since the war began on February 24.

Satellite images have shown the full scale of the devastation, with significant destruction to residential areas.

Russia said about 130,000 of Mariupol’s 400,000 residents remain. They are trapped with little if any food, water and power following a collapse in basic services.

Previous attempts to allow residents to flee Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities have failed or only been partially successful as bombardments have continued as civilians have been fleeing.

The fighting in Mariupol has intensified in recent days. An art school believed to have been sheltering about 400 people was bombed by Russian forces on Sunday while fighting reached the city centre.

It is not known how many have been killed or injured.

Last week a theatre in the city that was also being used as a shelter was targeted. Olha Stefanishyna, a deputy prime minister, said she believed that genocide was being committed against the Ukrainian people.

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She accused Russia of forcibly abducting thousands of Mariupol’s residents and taking them to Russian-controlled territory to be used for propaganda.

Photo Credit: Getty

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