This Monday Russia demanded Ukrainians to stop fighting and surrender the port city of Mariupol in exchange for safe passage out of town for citizens. This demand came hours after Russian forces bombed an art school in the port city which was sheltering 400 people.
Russian Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev stated that his forces would allow two corridors of citizens out of Mariupol, heading either east toward Russia, or west to other parts of Ukraine. Residents of the port city were given until 5 a.m. on Monday to respond to the offer; Russia didn’t make any statement about what action it would take if Ukrainians refused.
“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk told the news.
Mariupol Mayor Piotr Andryushchenko also rejected the offer, saying he “didn’t need to wait until morning to respond and curse at the Russians,” according to the news agency Interfax Ukraine.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said “authorities in Mariupol could face a military tribunal if they sided with bandits,” Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Previous attempts to allow residents to evacuate Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities have been either only partly successful, or failed completely due to continuous violence and conflict throughout the nation.
Speaking in a video address early Monday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “about 400 civilians were taking shelter at the art school when it was struck by a Russian bomb. They are under the rubble, and we don’t know how many of them have survived,” he said.
“But we know that we will certainly shoot down the pilot who dropped that bomb, like about 100 other such mass murderers whom we already have downed.”
Three weeks after Russia initially invaded, Western government and analysts are claiming the conflict is moving to be a war of attrition, as Russian forces are launching long-range missiles at Ukraine cities and military bases. Ukraine forces have responded by cutting their supply lines.
“Moscow cannot hope to rule the country, given Ukrainians’ enmity toward the Russian forces,” Zelenskyy said Monday.
The strike on the art school marks the second time within a week that Russian forces attacked a public building where Mariupol residents have taken shelter. On Wednesday, a bomb hit a theater where it was believed more than 1,000 people were sheltering. Ukrainian officials have not been able to provide an update on the search of the theater since Friday, where it was reported that at least 130 people were rescued, and another 1,300 were trapped by the rubble.
Officials have stated that food, water, and electricity has been very scarce in Mariupol, and the constant fighting has kept out humanitarian convoys. The city has essentially been under attack for three weeks, and has seen some of the most amounts of violence throughout the entire invasion.
City officials said at least 2,300 people have died, with some buried in mass graves.
“The block-by-block fighting in Mariupol itself is costing the Russian military time, initiative, and combat power. Russia failed in its initial campaign to take the capital of Kyiv and other major cities quickly,” the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in a briefing.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “Ukrainian resistance means Putin’s forces on the ground are essentially stalled. It’s had the effect of him moving his forces into a woodchipper.”
According to AP journalists, “Six more people were killed Sunday by shelling in the densely populated Podil district, not far from the center of capital Kyiv. The attack there devastated a shopping center, leaving a flattened ruin still smoldering Monday morning in the midst of high-rise towers. The force of the explosion shattered every window in the high-rise next door and twisted their metal frames.”
The UN has confirmed 902 civilian deaths in the war, but claims the actual total is likely much larger. Nearly 3.4 million people have fled the Ukraine, at least 115 children have been killed and 148 have been injured so far.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.