The Ukrainian armed forces in Mariupol have ignored the ultimatum from Russia even as Kyiv officials pledged to fight till the end. Ukraine’s resistance remained concentrated in a giant steel factory in the ruined port city of Mariupol.
Mariupol has been the center of a brutal 7-week siege. It has reduced large parts of the port city to ruins. If Russia manages to take it, it would stand as Russia’s major conquest in the war, freeing up their troops for the control of the industrial east of Ukraine.
Russia needs to secure the southeastern port city of Mariupol to fully take over a road corridor directly to the occupied Crimean Peninsula, under Russian control after it seized it in 2014. It would dispossess Ukraine of its major port, one of its valued industrial possessions.
The besieged forces are under an ultimatum. They have been urged by the Russians to surrender before 6 am Moscow time (3 am GMT) on Sunday and complete evacuation before 1 pm.
Ukraine Refuses To Comply With The Deadline
Even after several hours have passed since the Sunday deadline, there seem to be few signs of the resistance crumbling. The Azovstal steelworks remains out of bounds for the Russians for now, one of the biggest plants in Europe.
The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal declared that the forces trapped in Mariupol have chosen to continue fighting. He said that the city had not fallen and the nation would continue to fight till the end.
He said that while Ukraine was prepared to consider a diplomatic solution to the problem, they had no intention of surrendering at any stage.
Russia has estimated that around 2,500 regular troops of Ukraine and around 400-plus foreign mercenaries remain trapped in the Azovstal Steel Plant, which is spread out over an area of 11 square kilometers and is linked with numerous tunnels.
Ukraine claimed that civilians were sheltering there, though there was no independent confirmation of the statement.