Russia called on Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms in the battered eastern port city of Mariupol on Sunday, where Moscow said a “terrible humanitarian catastrophe” was unfolding. Mariupol has suffered some of the heaviest bombardments since Putin’s globally unpopular invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th. Many of its 400,000 residents remain trapped in the city with little if any food, water, and power.
Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management, said in a briefing distributed by the defense ministry, said humanitarian corridors for civilians would be opened eastwards and westwards out of Mariupol at 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT) on Monday. Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the failure to open such corridors in recent weeks, and now Ukraine has until 5 a.m. Moscow time to respond to the offer on humanitarian corridors and laying down arms, Mizintsev said.
Mizintsev falsely claimed Russia was “not using heavy weapons in Mariupol”. He said Russia had evacuated 59,304 people out of the city but that 130,000 civilians remained as effective hostages there. Without providing evidence, Mizintsev said that Ukrainian “bandits”, “neo-Nazis” and nationalists had engaged in “mass terror” and gone on a killing spree in the city. Mizintsev also said 330,686 people had been evacuated from Ukraine by Russia since the start of the “operation,” which Putin had said, without evidence, was necessary to disarm and “denazify” its neighbor. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is Jewish and lost three of his father’s brothers in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.
How could anybody in this country defend or even try to explain Putin’s actions in Ukraine? Putin has poisoned the world with violence and lies. My thoughts on Putin’s assault on the truth. #HoldOn pic.twitter.com/e4gAbYaCUq
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) March 20, 2022
Ukraine is fighting for its existence, President Zelenskyy said on Saturday. Zelenskyy said that the siege of Mariupol was “a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come”. The West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia that the Kremlin says amount to a declaration of economic war by the United States and its allies.
we will win
there will be new cities
there will be new dreams
there will be a new story
there will be, there’s no doubt
and those we've lost will be remembered
and we will sing again, and we will celebrate anew
— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) March 20, 2022
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced more than 3 million, and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States. Fears increased when Putin bragged that his army had used a “hypersonic” missile for the first time in the conflict, and indicated there was plenty more firepower where that came from.