Zelensky defies calls for surrender as cities ‘wipe the face of the Earth’
Kraine’s president said his country could never deliver kyiv, Mariupol or Kharkiv to the forces of Vladmir Putin, who has been branded a “war criminal” for the atrocities committed.
Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed Ukraine will never comply with Russia’s ultimatums after rejecting one issued by the Kremlin for people to lay down their arms and leave Mariupol in the south of the country by 5 a.m. Monday morning.
He stressed that cities like kyiv, Mariupol or Kharkiv would not accept Russian occupation.
“We have an ultimatum with points. “Follow her and we will end the war,” Zelensky said in an interview published by Ukraine’s state-run broadcasting company Suspilne. “Ukraine cannot fulfill the ultimatum.”
Ukraine has defied the Kremlin’s demand that its troops in the city lay down their arms before dawn, where tens of thousands of civilians have been besieged – cut off from food, water and electricity.
As more details of the horror sown by Russian forces in Mariupol emerged, Mr Zelensky condemned the “mass murderer” pilots bombing the city.
Meanwhile, the President’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, accused Russia of committing a “true act of genocide” against the besieged city of Mariupol, where he said around 400,000 citizens were surrounded without “food, water, light, air” for weeks.
In a statement to British government officials during an emergency visit to London on Monday, Mr Reznikov said Moscow must be stopped “because it will go further” and said several cities “have already been wiped out from the face of the earth”.
Also in London, Minister Sajid Javid backed the idea of a Nuremberg-style trial to try Russian President Putin in his absence for war crimes in Ukraine.
“I am appalled by the atrocities taking place in Ukraine and the despicable attacks we are seeing against civilians,” he told LBC radio. “As far as I’m concerned, these are the acts of a war criminal.”
Russian military commanders have given residents of Mariupol until 5 a.m. (3 a.m. UK time) on Monday to surrender and be allowed out of the southern city through safe corridors. But Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said: “Of course, we rejected these proposals, because there was little confidence that the Russians would keep their word, having already attacked evacuation convoys.
Thousands of civilians were reportedly killed in the town where a theater, believed to have housed more than 1,000 civilians, and a school housing 400 people were hit.
Russian shelling has thwarted efforts to rescue people trapped under the drama theatre, from which some 130 people were rescued last week.
Speaking in a video address early on Monday, Mr Zelensky said around 400 civilians were taking refuge at the art school in the beleaguered port city on the Sea of Azov when it was hit by a Russian bomb. .
“They are under the rubble, and we don’t know how many of them survived,” he said. “But we know we will definitely shoot down the pilot who dropped that bomb, like about 100 other mass murderers we’ve already shot down.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv tweeted: “As heroic rescuers worked to save children and others following the horrific bombing of the Mariupol theater, forces attacked a designated shelter in a art school with 400 people in. The killings must stop, read the 4th Geneva Convention.
The delay in surrender has raised fears that Mr Putin could resort to even more barbaric attacks, possibly using chemical weapons, to force Mariupol, where fighting has taken place in the city center, to surrender quickly.
Mariupol was home to 400,000 people before the war. It has been besieged and bombarded, without food, medicine, electricity or fresh water, since the early days of the Russian invasion which began on February 24.
However, a Russian-backed separatist leader in eastern Ukraine said it would take more than a week to take control of the strategically important city, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
“I’m not so optimistic that two or three days or even a week will solve the problem. Unfortunately, no, the city is big,” said Denis Pushilin, head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, according to the report.
In other key developments:
- Boris Johnson discussed ensuring the government in Kyiv has the “tools it needs to defend itself” during a call on Monday with US President Joe Biden, Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, German Olaf Scholz and Italian Mario Draghi.
- Mr Javid warned that the bloodshed in Ukraine could get “much uglier” as Mr Putin’s troops have bogged down and instead resort to even heavier shelling and bombardment of towns and villages.
- Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced an “enhanced curfew” in the Ukrainian capital from 8 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Wednesday. He said shops, pharmacies and gas stations would not open on Tuesday. Parts of the city have come under repeated fire from Russian forces. “I ask everyone to stay at home – or in shelters when the alarm sounds,” he stressed.
- The Russian Air Force struck a Ukrainian army installation in the Rivne region with cruise missiles, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Monday morning.
- More than 7,000 people were evacuated from cities through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, more than half of them from Mariupol, the Ukrainian government said.
- Eight people were killed in kyiv when a shopping center was hit.
- The Kremlin said peace talks between Russia and Ukraine had yet to make significant progress. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said progress needed to be made so that there was a basis for a possible meeting between Mr Putin and Mr Zelensky. Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of the United Kingdom’s Joint Forces Command, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that if the Russians captured Mariupol their next ‘logical’ target would be the port of Odessa.
- Britain has issued some 9,500 visas to refugees under Ukraine’s family scheme, Mr Javid said.
- It was revealed that nearly 10 million people in Ukraine had been internally displaced or had fled the country.
- A ‘prank’ video call with Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has surfaced after Britain accused Russia of several hoaxes targeting government ministers.