Ukraine will not surrender Mariupol to Russian invaders, says Ukraine's reintegration minister
Ukraine will not surrender the port city of Mariupol, which has already been almost destroyed, to invading Russian forces, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk told the Ukrayinska Pravda online newspaper on March 20.
Earlier, Russia's Defense Ministry delivered an ultimatum to the Ukrainian authorities to surrender Mariupol by 0500 on March 21.
Russia demanded that Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko give up the city, after which the Russians claimed they would open humanitarian corridors for the population and the disarmed Ukrainian military both towards Russian and towards Ukraine.
"They (Russians) have (sent) an eight-page (letter) with references to history and other nonsense," Vereshchuk said.
"They sent the same letter to the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and hoped that international structures would react and begin to put pressure on Ukraine. It didn't work. The ICRC and the UN understand that this is Russian manipulation, and that this is an attempt to take people hostage."
Ukraine in turn demands that the Russians open a humanitarian corridor for the civilian population so that they can leave Mariupol for the city of Zaporizhzhya.
"There can be no talk of any surrender or laying down of arms,” the Ukrainian minister said.
“We have already informed the Russian side about this. I replied: 'Instead of wasting time on eight pages per letter, just open a corridor,'" Vereshchuk said, adding that the Russians had "started abducting people, taking them to the Russian Federation.”
"We know for a fact that they are kidnapping children from orphanages and are not allowing us to take them back," she said, saying that she believes that Russia is looking to abduct 350 Ukrainian orphans and refuse Ukrainian pleas to return them.
“We’re asking them clearly: ‘give us a (humanitarian) corridor’ and we tell them which boarding school we’re taking (the orphans) to, and why. They, however, immediately take the children to Russia. This is terrorism."
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