On Monday, Ukrainian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol refused demands from the invading Russian military to surrender their city.
According to the Associated Press, the port city of Mariupol remains one of the most crucial strategic locations in the war, and thus has been under assault from Russian forces for nearly three weeks. Some government officials in Ukraine and other Western nations have accused the Russians of committing war crimes in the city over the course of their bombardment.
During the Russian airstrikes on the city, one bomb allegedly hit a school where over 400 people were taking shelter.
“They are under the rubble, and we don’t know how many of them have survived,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the Mariupol school bombing. He added that Ukrainian fighters would “shoot down the pilot who dropped that bomb.”
Shortly thereafter, Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev offered safe passage out of the city for civilians and soldiers who laid down their weapons, through two select corridors leading east and west, an offer the Ukrainians rejected. Subsequently, Russian officials said that Ukrainian officials in Mariupol could be forced to stand trial at a military tribunal if they continued to hold out and side with “bandits.”
“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms,” said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk. “We have already informed the Russian side about this.”
Soldiers and citizens alike are fighting to hold the city, particularly after the Russian forces cut off all energy, water, and food supplies into the city, and have severed most of its communications with the rest of Ukraine and the world. Thus far, Mariupol officials have claimed a death toll of at least 2,300 in the bombardment of the city, with multiple mass graves being dug.