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Putin Tells Ukraine to ‘Stop Fighting’ and Surrender or Else Kyiv Siege Will Continue

Putin Tells Ukraine to ‘Stop Fighting’ and Surrender or Else Kyiv Siege Will Continue

Constant fighting blocked efforts to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol for the second day in a row on Sunday as Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to press ahead with his offensive, which he said was going to plan unless Kyiv surrendered.

Putin has repeatedly denied attacking civilian areas, but the civilian death toll from his army’s attacks across Ukraine since he ordered its invasion on February 24th stood at 364, including more than 20 children, the United Nations said on Sunday, adding hundreds more were injured.

Putin’s invasion has drawn almost universal condemnation around the world, sending more than 1.5 million Ukrainians fleeing from the country. Sweeping Western sanctions against Russia aimed at crippling its economy are already impacting Russian citizens who don’t support the dictator’s war, and the Biden administration has tightened the reins even further, announcing on Sunday that it was exploring banning Russian oil imports.

Putin made his demand for Kyiv to “end the fighting” in a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who appealed for a ceasefire. Putin told Erdogan he was ready for dialogue with Ukraine and foreign partners but any attempt to draw out negotiation would fail, a Kremlin statement said.

Russian media said Putin also spoke by phone for almost two hours with French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron told Putin he was concerned about a possible imminent attack on southern Ukraine’s historic port city of Odessa, Macron’s office said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States has seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians in Ukraine, adding that Washington was documenting them to support appropriate organizations in their potential war crimes investigation over Russia’s actions.  The U.S. has now given the “green light” to other countries if they choose to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, but will not implement a no-fly zone.

[This is a continuing and developing story, please check back for updates]

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