Ukraine rejected a Russian offer for Ukrainian forces in the besieged eastern port city of Mariupol to surrender before dawn on March 21.
The Russian Defense Ministry earlier offered Ukrainian troops in Mariupol until 5 a.m. to “lay down their arms” in exchange of “guaranteed safe passage” out of the city.
However, in an interview late on March 20, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk rejected Russian calls for Ukrainian troops to surrender, calling it “a conscious manipulation and true hostage-taking.”
“There can be no discussion of any surrender or of laying down arms,” Vereshchuk said, adding that Russia has already been informed of the rejection.
The Mariupol city council also rejected the Russian terms, which was laid out on an eight-page document.
“They gave time until the morning to formulate a response. But why wait so long?” the city council said.
Petro Andrushenko, the advisor to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko, told BBC that Russian humanitarian promises could not be trusted.
“When [Russian forces] say about humanitarian corridors, what do they really do? They really force evacuate our people to Russia,” Andryushenko claimed.
According to Russian state media RIA Novosti, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Defense Management Center, claimed that “a terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed” in Mariupol.
Mizintsev also warned that those who refused to surrender will face a “military tribunal.”
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