New Delhi: There is ‘no question’ of surrendering Mariupol, Ukrainian deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk has said, responding to Russia’s ‘offer’ to Ukrainian troops defending the strategic port city to lay down arms and exit via humanitarian corridors. “There can be no talks about surrender and laying down weapons,” Vereshchuk said, dismissing Russia’s statement as ‘manipulation.’
Moscow should not waste its time in ‘eight pages on letters’ and, instead, should just open the corridors, she further said.
The minister’s rejection of Russia’s demand came after Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Centre for Defense Management, called on Kyiv to ‘let go’ of the besieged town in south-eastern Ukraine.
“A terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed in Mariupol. All those who lay down their arms are guaranteed safe passage,” Mizintsev said, adding that humanitarian corridors for civilians, who want to leave, will open at 10am Moscow time (7am GMT, 12:30pm IST) on Monday.
Mizintsev also gave Ukraine until 5am Moscow time on March 21 to respond.
Mariupol is among Ukrainian cities heavily bombarded by Russia since it launched invasion of the east European nation on February 24. Many of the city’s 400,000 residents remain trapped inside with scarce food, water and power.
On March 16, a drama theatre in the city, hosting civilians,was bombed; while Ukraine accused Russia of committing this ‘genocide,’ Moscow blamed the attack on the Azov battalion of the Ukrainian army.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has frequently described the invasion as a ‘special military operation’ to ‘de-nazify’ Ukraine.