International Desk, Apr 17 (EFE).- Russia has given an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces fighting in besieged Mariupol to lay down their weapons by 6 am Moscow time (03:00 GMT) on Sunday in order for their lives to be spared.
The deadline was announced in a statement by Russia’s National Defense Control Center head Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, saying the decision took into account “the catastrophic situation” at the Azovstal steelworks, and “guided by purely humane principles,” according to Russian state news agency Tass.
Moscow earlier said it had cleared the city’s entire urban area of resistance and that remaining fighters are blockaded in the Azovstal steelworks.
Under Russia’s proposal, from 6am to 1pm Moscow time, “all Ukrainian armed units and foreign mercenaries will leave without weapons and ammunition.”
The strategic port city on the Sea of Azov is one of the main goals of Russia in its efforts to achieve total control of the Donbas region and form a land corridor in the east of the country from the annexed Crimean peninsula.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video addressed to the nation on Saturday night that “the situation in Mariupol remains as severe as possible. Just inhuman.”
He said Russia “deliberately continues to destroy cities. Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there in Mariupol.”
“There has not been a single day since the blockade of Mariupol that we have not sought a solution. Military or diplomatic – anything to save people. But finding this solution is extremely difficult. So far, there is no one hundred percent valid option,” Zelenskyy said.
Russia’s bombardment of Mariupol’s unarmed residents and its blocking of humanitarian aid have caused one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes of the war, according to Ukrainian media outlet Ukrinform.
According to the city’s mayor’s office, up to 20,000 civilians have been killed since the Russian invasion.
The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that the Russians have deployed up to 13 mobile crematoria in Mariupol to remove the bodies of murdered civilians from the streets, Ukrinform added.
The Ukrainian authorities consider that some 120,000 civilians remain in the besieged city. EFE