Ukraine has rejected an ultimatum to hand over the besieged port city of Mariupol to Russian forces, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told Ukrainian media on Sunday.
“You can’t talk about handing over weapons. We have already reported this to the Russian side,” Vereshchuk told the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.
“It is deliberate manipulation and it is a true hostage situation,” he added of the Russian demand.
Russia gave the city an ultimatum on Sunday night for its defenders to surrender before 05:00 am (local time) on Monday.
“We call on units of the Ukrainian armed forces, territorial defense battalions and foreign mercenaries to stop hostilities, lay down their arms and … enter the territories controlled by kyiv,” he said. Mikhail Mizintsevboss of Russian National Defense Control Center.
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The Russian Ministry of Defense, addressing the authorities of Mariupolhe wrote on the Telegram network: “You now have the right to make a historic decision: either you are with your people or you are with the criminals.”
He threatened them with a “court-martial” if they reject the ultimatum, to prosecute them for “their despicable attitude towards their own citizens and the horrible crimes and provocations they have committed.”
Mariupola strategic port in the southeast, has been one of the main targets of Russian attacks.
The city has endured days of Russian bombardment that left it almost completely cut off from food, water and other goods.
Russian authorities said they would open humanitarian corridors on Monday to allow villagers to leave if they agreed to surrender.
With information from AFP