Russian forces called on Ukrainian nationalists in surrounded Mariupol to lay down their weapons on Monday morning and leave the city before civilian evacuations by noon, with Ukrainian officials putting Moscow on notice that there would be “no talk of any surrender.”
The chief of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, Mikhail Mizintsev, on Sunday said humanitarian corridors from besieged Mariupol would be opened in the eastern and western directions Monday morning, allowing fighters in the opposite camp to flee “in order to save human lives” and preserve the town’s infrastructure.
"Ukrainian armed units and foreign mercenaries will be able to leave the city without weapons and munitions along a route agreed with Ukraine from 10:00am to 12:00 Moscow time," Mizintsev said.
Moscow claims that it had intercepted radio talks of Ukrainian nationalists in Mariupol 'who have realized the utter hopelessness of their position and senselessness of further resistance'
The announcement came after Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk rejected Moscow’s “offer to allow two safe corridors out of the besieged city of Mariupol in exchange for Ukrainian fighters laying down their arms.”
“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms,” Vereshchuk responded without delay.
Humanitarian aid has not been reaching civilians in urban areas in Ukraine, with conflicting reports suggesting on the one hand Russian troops were blocking it and on the other hand Ukrainian army forces were refusing Moscow’s evacuation terms.
But things in Mariupol were getting desperate as civilians trapped in the city have been without utilities and humanitarian aid for weeks.
Moscow claimed over the weekend that it had intercepted radio talks of Ukrainian nationalists in Mariupol “who have realized the utter hopelessness of their position and senselessness of further resistance,” according to the Russian News Agency.
Mizintsev suggested that after nationalists leave Mariupol between 10am and 12noon on Monday, residents and foreign nationals would be “guaranteed voluntary choice of any of the humanitarian corridors or the right to stay in the unblocked city," adding that each convoy would be escorted by mine engineers to clear mines in order to ensure safe evacuation of people.
The Mariupol city council has accused Russian forces of committing crimes against humanity, saying in a post that those actions were against people in Ukraine’s south eastern town.
"Russia continues the genocide of the Ukrainian people and civilians of Mariupol," the post said, adding that “every war criminal will answer for his crimes.”