Russia called on Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to lay down their arms, saying a ‘terrible humanitarian catastrophe’ was unfolding as it said defenders who did so were guaranteed safe passage out of the city and humanitarian corridors would be opened from it at 10am Moscow time (7am GMT) on Monday.
However, Ukraine rejected the offer as Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said no and called on Russian forces to stop ‘wasting time on eight pages of letters’ and ‘just open the corridor’.
She told news outlet Ukrainian Pravda: ‘There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this.’
Residents were given until 5am Monday to respond to the offer, which included them raising a white flag – Russia didn’t say what action it would take if the offer was rejected.
Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said forces would allow two corridors out of Mariupol – one heading east toward Russia or another, west, to other areas of Ukraine.
Fighting continued inside the besieged city on Sunday, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said, without elaborating, as claims today came that thousands from the port city are being taken for forced labour into remote parts of Russia.
The Mariupol City Council said in a statement: ‘The occupiers are forcing people to leave Ukrain