Russian ultimatum to Ukraine forces in Mariupol expires

Russian ultimatum to Ukraine forces in Mariupol expires

Russian ultimatum to Ukraine forces in Mariupol expires

Russian ultimatum to Ukraine forces in Mariupol expires


Russia warned the US this week that sending its “most sensitive” weapons systems to Ukraine, as Zelensky has demanded, would have “unprecedented consequences.”

Its defence ministry said Saturday that it shot down a Ukrainian transport jet carrying weaponry provided by Western nations over the Odesa region.

“During the night, high-precision, air-launched missiles destroyed an ammunitions factory near the settlement of Brovary, Kyiv region,” Russia’s defence ministry said, the third such airstrike near the capital in as many days.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk urged Russian forces to allow evacuations from Mariupol, which Moscow’s forces claim to have brought under their control, though Ukrainian fighters remain holed up in the city’s fortress-like steelworks.

Moscow on Saturday issued an ultimatum to the fighters, urging them to lay down their arms by 6:00 am Moscow time (0300 GMT) and to evacuate before 13:00 pm.


“Once again, we demand the opening of a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of civilians, especially women and children, from Mariupol,” Vereshchuk wrote.

Russia’s defence ministry said that there were up to 400 mercenaries inside the encircled Azovstal steel plant, calling on Ukrainian forces inside to “lay down their arms and surrender in order to save their lives.”

Moscow claims Kyiv has ordered fighters of the nationalist Azov battalion to “shoot on the spot” anyone wanting to surrender.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that if Russian forces kill Kyiv’s troops remaining to defend the city, then a fledgling negotiation process to end nearly two months of fighting would be ended.

– ‘Inhuman’ –
Zelensky said the situation in Mariupol is “inhuman” and called on the West to immediately provide heavy weapons.


Mariupol has become a symbol of Ukraine’s unexpectedly fierce resistance since Russian troops invaded the former Soviet state on February 24.

“The situation in Mariupol remains as severe as possible. Just inhuman,” Zelensky said in a video address.

“Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there.”

The UN World Food Programme has said that over 100,000 civilians in Mariupol are on the verge of famine, and lacking water and heating.

Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said the city was on “the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe” and warned the country was compiling evidence of alleged Russian atrocities there.

“We will hand everything over to The Hague. There will be no impunity,” he said.


With fighting raging in the east, Deputy Prime Minister Vereshchuk said that humanitarian corridors allowing civilians to flee would not open on Sunday after failing to agree terms with Russian forces.

Ukrainian authorities have urged people in the eastern Donbas area to move west to escape a large-scale Russian offensive to capture its composite regions, Donetsk and Lugansk.

– ‘Easter of war’ –
Celebrating Easter Sunday in Rome, Pope Francis called for peace in Ukraine during this “Easter of war”.

“May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged,” the pontiff said in his traditional Urbi et Orbi address on St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

“Let there be a decision for peace. May there be an end to the flexing of muscles while people are suffering.”


Francis said he held “in my heart all the many Ukrainian victims, the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, the divided families, the elderly left to themselves, the lives broken and the cities razed to the ground.

“I see the faces of the orphaned children fleeing from the war.”

A week ahead of Orthodox Easter, men, women and children of all ages streamed into the Bernardine Monastery in the western city of Lviv to bless sprigs of pussy willow on Orthodox Palm Sunday.

Under an ornate gilded ceiling, worshippers huddled on pews or found standing space near the door to engage in private prayer.

On the square outside, Natalia Borysiuk, a 29-year-old who works in the IT sector, held a posy of pussy willow and wheat bound in blue and yellow ribbon, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. She said she had come to pray for “peace and victory”.

“I can’t even talk about how in these eastern cities of Ukraine and Kyiv they suffer now. It’s terrible. But here we can just go to church and pray, and believe in our beautiful and peaceful future,” she said.


– ‘Unpredictable consequences’ –

If the US supplies its “most sensitive” weapons systems to Ukraine, as Zelensky has demanded, Russia has warned the US of “unprecedented consequences.”

Its defence ministry claimed Saturday that a Ukrainian transport jet carrying weaponry provided by Western countries was shot down in the Odessa region.

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