The Russian Armed Forces offered Ukraine’s militants in Mariupol a way out on Sunday but there was no response, while the wife of the war-torn country’s pro-Russia opposition leader has called for his release in exchange of two British combatants.
According to the Russian News Agency, Moscow’s defense officials had called for militants from the nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol “to end hostilities and lay down arms from 06:00 Moscow time on Sunday, April 17.”
“Their lives will be spared,” Mikhail Mizintsev, chief of Russia’s National Defense Management Center said on Saturday.
Russia's Defence Ministry claimed its troops had cleared the urban area of Mariupol and by Saturday “only a small contingent of Ukrainian fighters remained in a giant steelworks.”
The wife of a pro-Russia opposition leader held by Ukrainian forces has called for an exchange of prisoners between her husband and two British soldiers who surrendered in Mariupol
There was no immediate response from Kiev but a day earlier, the wife of pro-Russia opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk posted a video calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to support an exchange of prisoners between her husband and two enemy combatants from the UK.
Ukrainian security forces earlier this week captured Medvedchuk, who had been advocating for closer ties between Kiev and Moscow. He was arrested and placed under house arrest earlier this year but was later said to have escaped on February 26, two days after Russian troops went inside Ukraine.
Two British mercenary soldiers, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, have been captured by Russian forces in Mariupol, but it was not clear whether they would be treated as prisoners of war of enemy combatants.
The two men were also said to have taken part in other militant campaigns, including a time when they joined YPG, a group seen by Turkey as the Syrian branch of PKK, a Kurdish organization designated as terrorist by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.
Aslin, aged 28, joined the Ukrainian marines four years ago and he was the first British fighter captured in Mariupol.
Pinner, aged 48, was known to have been serving as a “contract soldier” with Kiev forces.
Medvedchuk’a wife, Oksana Marchenko, has called on Aslin and Pinner’s relatives in a recent video to seek their release in exchange of her husband.
“It is in your power to ask the PM of your country Boris Johnson to influence Ukrainian leadership,” Marchenko said.
Western media on Saturday as well as Sunday morning reported there had been no response to Russia’s offer.
Mizintsev said radio communications from the surrounded and blocked-off Azovstal metallurgical plant suggested the militants inside were “in a hopeless situation, practically without food and water.”
“They urge permission to lay down arms and surrender from the Kiev authorities. Meanwhile, representatives of the Kiev authorities categorically forbid them to do this and threaten with subsequent executions under the ‘wartime’ conditions," a Russian defense ministry statement claimed.
Story title has been updated to reflect no outcome after surrender window closed