Ukraine on Monday refused to announce the surrender of its soldiers in the southern port city of Mariupol, at the request of Russia.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, in the early hours of this morning, that Kyiv’s abandonment of the city of Mariupol “is out of the question.”
She added, in statements reported by the Ukrainian newspaper “Ukrainska Pravda”, that “talking about surrender or laying down arms is out of the question. We have previously informed the Russian side of this.”
Iryna Vereshchuk described the Russian demand as “deliberate manipulation and genuine hostage-taking”.
The Russian Defense Ministry called on Ukraine to “lay down arms” in Mariupol and demanded a “written response” to its request in order to protect the city’s population and infrastructure.
“We call on units of the Ukrainian armed forces, regional defense battalions and foreign mercenaries to stop hostilities, lay down their weapons, and enter the territory controlled by Kyiv along the humanitarian corridors agreed upon with the Ukrainian side,” Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Defense Management Center, said in a press statement to Russian news agency “Sputnik”.
“At the same time, we guarantee all those who lay down their arms a safe exit from Mariupol and the preservation of life,” Mizintsev stressed.
On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, which was followed by angry international reactions and the imposition of severe economic and financial sanctions on Moscow.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government responded that it would never bow to ultimatums and said cities such as the capital Kyiv, Mariupol and Kharkiv would always defy occupation, Reuters reported.
To end the operation, Russia requires Ukraine to abandon any plans to join military entities, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “NATO” and to adhere to complete neutrality, which Kyiv considers an “interference in its sovereignty.”