The Ukrainian military reported further Russian airstrikes on the city of Mariupol on Sunday, following the expiry of a Russian ultimatum for local fighters to surrender to the Russian forces besieging the city.
Russian troops focused their attacks of the city’s port and the Azovstal steelworks, both scenes of fierce battles for days. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told US broadcaster ABC that the city had not fallen and that the remaining Ukrainian troops in Mariupol would “fight to the end.”
Russia had earlier threatened the Ukrainian troops who are dug in and surrounded in the city’s steelworks with “annihilation” if they didn’t surrender.
The Ukrainians ignored a Russian ultimatum to lay down their weapons and surrender by noon on Sunday.
The units, including 400 foreign mercenaries, are holed up in the Azovstal steelworks, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. He said the Ukrainian government had forbidden them to surrender.
Moscow had set a deadline of 1000 GMT for the remaining troops to surrender, saying that those who did so would live. Konashenkov said that if the fighters resisted any longer, “they will all be destroyed.”
There are some 2,500 fighters in the plant, according to Russian sources, who said on Saturday that the city was already under Russian control.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he would do everything possible to save Mariupol, a city of vital strategic importance to both sides in the conflict.