Russia has issued a chilling warning to Ukrainian soldiers as it ordered the last defenders of besieged Mariupol to lay down their arms, but Volodymyr Zelensky warned the Kremlin was attempting to kill everyone there.
Moscow gave Ukrainian soldiers an ultimatum to surrender or die by 3 am GMT on Sunday after the Russian Defence Ministry claimed their troops had cleared the urban area of the city, with only a small unit of Ukrainian soldiers remaining in the giant Azovastal steelworks in the southeastern port.
In a statement, the defence ministry said that the Russian Armed Forces offer the militants of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries from 6 am (Moscow time) on April 17, 2022, to stop any hostilities and lay down their arms. All who lay down their arms are assured that their lives will be spared.
With the last Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol refusing to surrender and accept Russia’s now expired ultimatum, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Kremlin was intentionally attempting to kill everyone who was there.
He said Ukraine needs more heavy weapons from the West immediately to have any possibility of saving the port city on the Sea of Azov as Russian airstrikes continue on Mariupol, according to Ukraine’s military.
He said either their partners give Ukraine all of the required heavy weapons, the planes, and without exaggeration immediately, so that they can relieve the pressure of the occupiers on Mariupol and break the blockade, or they do so through negotiations, in which the role of their partners should be decisive.
Were it to fall, it would be the first major city to be taken by Russian forces since the attack started on February 24.
It comes as the Ukrainian MP for Odesa, Oleksiy Goncharenko, told BBC News that the last defenders in Mariupol won’t surrender to Russia.
He said that he talked with them and that he knows that they were going to fight until the end.
Goncharenko referred to the ongoing siege of Mariupol as a real genocide and said it was believed that more than 20,000 people had been destroyed in the port city.
Earlier Mr Zelensky had told Ukrainian reporters that the situation in Mariupol, which had come at a horrific cost to trapped and starved civilians, could scuttle attempts to negotiate an end to the war.
A Russian Defence Ministry spokesman said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had been forced out of most of the city and remained only in the Azovstal steel mill, where tunnels allow the defenders to hide and resist until they run out of ammunition.
But are we to trust anything that’s reported on this war? I’m not suggesting that this war isn’t real, I’m just saying what do we believe when the tabloids report the news to us?
Reporting is never 100 per cent correct. Possibly 80 to 90 per cent accurate, if you’re lucky. You only have to see the images to get a real insight into what’s actually going on out there.
And I’m guessing that it would now be sensible for Ukraine to surrender, even if they don’t want to, but it’s not worth it for Zelensky to encourage people to become martyrs. Maybe he thinks they’re worth more dead than alive – for propaganda purposes, of course, but then most dictators are control monsters and that’s how they get into the roles they’re in today, with lies and menacing behaviour towards their populations, but then the Kremlin is planning to take possession of a city that no longer exists because Vladimir Putin has made sure of it.