The Russian military has offered the Ukrainian troops defending the strategic port of Mariupol to lay down arms and exit the city via humanitarian corridors, but that proposal was quickly rejected by the Ukrainian authorities.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Sunday that all Ukrainian soldiers could leave the Azov Sea port Monday using safe routes for evacuating civilians that had been previously agreed with Ukraine and head to areas controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. He said that “all those who lay down arms will be guaranteed a safe exit from Mariupol.”
Mizintsev added that Russia will wait until 5 a.m. Monday for a written Kyiv’s response to the Russian proposal for the Ukrainian troops to leave Mariupol but didn’t say what action Russia will take if its “humanitarian offer” is rejected.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in remarks carried by Ukrainska Pravda news outlet that Kyiv already had told Russia that “there can be no talk about surrender and laying down weapons.” She rejected the Russian statement as “manipulation.”
Mizintsev said that the deliveries of humanitarian supplies to the city will immediately follow if the Ukrainian troops agree to leave the city. He added that civilians will be free to choose whether to leave Mariupol or stay in the city.
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TODAY:
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the Russian bombing of a school in Mariupol where civilians took refuge.
Speaking in a video address early Monday, Zelenskyy said about 400 civilians were taking shelter at the art school in the besieged Azov Sea port city when it was struck by a Russian bomb.
“They are under the rubble, and we don’t know how many of them have survived,” he said. “But we know that we will certainly shoot down the pilot who dropped that bomb, like about 100 other such mass murderers whom we already have downed.”
Zelenskyy, who spoke to members of the Israeli parliament via video link on Sunday, thanked Israel for its efforts to broker talks with Russia. He praised Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for trying to help “find a negotiation track with Russia … so that we sooner or later start talking with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem.” “It would be the right place to find peace if possible,” he added.
The Ukrainian president also said that he had a call Sunday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a “true friend of Ukraine,” to discuss support for Ukraine during this week’s summit of the Group of Seven and NATO.
Zelenskyy said 7,295 Ukrainians were evacuated from zones of combat on Sunday, including nearly 4,000 from Mariupol. He also hailed people in the southern city of Kherson for taking to the streets Sunday to protest the Russian occupation, showing “Ukrainian courage, armless against the occupiers.”
LVIV, Ukraine — Management of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, said Sunday that 50 staff members who had been on the job since the plant was seized by Russian forces on Feb. 24 have been rotated out and replaced.
Officials had repeatedly expressed alarm that the staff was suffering exhaustion after weeks of forced, unrelieved work and that this endangered the decommissioned plant’s safety.
The authority that manages the plant did not give specifics on how agreement was reached to let the workers leave and others come in to replace them.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian survivors of one of the most brutal sieges in modern history were in the final minutes of their train ride to relative safety.
Some carried only what they had at hand when they seized the chance to escape the port of Mariupol amid relentless Russian bombardment. Some fled so quickly that relatives who were still in the starving, freezing Ukrainian city on the Sea of Azov aren’t aware that they have gone.
“There is no city anymore,” Marina Galla said. She wept in the doorway of a crowded train compartment that was pulling into the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
Even as they finally fled Mariupol, aiming to reach trains heading west to safety, Russian soldiers at checkpoints made a chilling suggestion: It would be better to go to the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol or the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula instead.
Mariupol authorities say nearly 10% of the city’s population of 430,000 have fled over the past week.
WASHINGTON — China’s ambassador to the U.S. is defending his country’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, contending such a rebuke will do nothing to stop the violence.
Qin Gang tells CBS’s “Face the Nation” that China’s condemnation would not help and that he is doubtful it would have any effect on Russia.
He says China wants “friendly, good neighborly relations with Russia” and will keep up “normal trade, economic, financial, energy cooperation with Russia” as it continues “to promote peace talks” and urge an immediate ceasefire from Russia through negotiation and diplomacy.
Qin spoke after President Joe Biden last week warned Chinese President Xi Jinping of “consequences” if China gave material aid to Russia to support its war in Ukraine. Ukraine has since called on China to join Western countries and Japan in condemning Russia’s attack.
On Sunday, Qin said China is not providing any military assistance to Russia. He insisted that China remains “against a war” and “will do everything” — short of condemnation — “to deescalate the crisis.”
JERUSALEM — Ukraine’s president called on Israel to take a stronger stand against Russia as he compared the invasion of his country to atrocities committed by Nazi Germany during World War II.
In a speech delivered Sunday via Zoom to members of Israel’s parliament, Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to carry out a “permanent solution” against Ukraine. That was the term used by Nazi Germany for its genocide of some 6 million Jews.
Zelenskyy also noted that a Russian missile attack recently struck Babi Yar in Ukraine, where over 30,000 Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis over two days in 1941. The site is now Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial.
“You know what this place means, where the victims of the Holocaust are buried,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has emerged as a key mediator between Russia and Ukraine, in part because Israel has good relations with both sides.
Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, urged Israel to follow moves by Western countries to impose sanctions on Russia and provide Ukraine weapons.
LONDON — The bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral rang out Sunday as a gesture of support for Ukraine.
The London landmark rang its 12 bells at 4 p.m. (1600GMT), the same time as church bells were due to sound in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. Durham Cathedral in northern England and other churches around Britain also joined in.
Dean of St. Paul’s David Ison said he hoped Ukrainians would “find comfort in this act of solidarity.” He said “we continue to pray for strength and safety for the many people affected by the conflict, and for peace in Ukraine and around the world.”
Ukrainian politicians have likened their fight against Russian invasion to Britain’s struggle against Nazi Germany in World War II. One of the most iconic images of British wartime resilience is a photo showing the dome of St. Paul’s surrounded by thick smoke during a night of heavy German bombing in 1940.
BERLIN — Alona Fartukhova has been coming to Berlin’s Ukrainian Orthodox Christian community every day since she arrived in Germany five days ago from war-torn Kyiv. The 20-year-old refugee has been attending daily prayers for peace and helped organize donations for her compatriots back home.
On Sunday, Fartukhova joined dozens of other Ukrainian worshippers at a red brick stone church in the German capital who sang together, lit candles, and received blessings from the head of the community, Father Oleh Polianko. Later they put medical crutches, sleeping bags, diapers, big boxes of gummi bears and countless jars of pickles — which were piling up everywhere inside the church — into big cardboard boxes to be send to Ukraine.
Across Europe, Ukrainians gathered for church services to pray for peace in their war-torn country. Newly arrived refugees mingled with long-time members of Europe’s 1.5 million-strong Ukrainian diaspora at houses of worship all over the continent from Germany to Romania to Moldova.
Since Russia attacked Ukraine more than three weeks ago, over 3.38 million people have fled the country, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Most have escaped to neighboring Poland, Romania or Moldova, but as the war continues many are moving further west.
BERLIN — More than 8,000 people are attending an open-air concert in the German capital to express their support for Ukraine.
The “Sound of Peace” concert at the city’s landmark Brandenburg Gate on Sunday features German music stars such as Marius Mueller-Westernhagen, who was to perform his iconic song Freiheit, or freedom in German, violinist David Garrett, singer Peter Maffay, and the bands Revolverheld and Silbermond.
Up to 20,000 people were expected at the concert which started in the early afternoon and was supposed to last into the night.
On Sunday afternoon, police called on visitors that the main streets leading to the venue where so crowded that newcomers should look for others ways to get to the concert, German news agency dpa reported.
KYIV, Ukraine — The Mariupol City Council has issued a statement claiming that its residents are being evacuated to Russia against their will and one Ukrainian lawmaker says those people are being taken for forced labor in remote parts of Russia.
“The occupiers are forcing people to leave Ukraine for Russia. Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to the Russian territory,” the city statement said.
The Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said Sunday that 2,973 people have been evacuated from Mariupol since March 5, including 541 over the last 24 hours.
The statement by the Mariupol City Council also claimed that cellphones and documents of evacuees have been inspected by Russian troops before sending Mariupol residents to the “remote cities in Russia.”
Ukrainian lawmaker Inna Sovsun told Times Radio that according to the mayor and city council in Mariupol, those citizens are going to so-called filtration camps and “then they’re being relocated to very distant parts of Russia, where they’re being forced to sign papers that they will stay in that area for two or three years and they will work for free in those areas.”
The besieged city of Mariupol, which has suffered under heavy Russian forces’ shelling, has been cut off from food, water and energy supplies.
WARSAW, Poland — Officials in Poland say that trucks headed for Belarus are backed up for 40 kilometers (25 miles) while they wait to reach the Koroszczyn border point as a group of protesters is blocking the road there. The protesters are calling for a ban on trade with Russia and its ally Belarus.
The protesters, Ukrainians and Poles, have been blocking access to the crossing – on and off – for some two weeks, to pressure Moscow into ending its war on Ukraine.
The latest round of the “NO Trade with Russia!” protest in eastern Poland began early Saturday.
Some 950 trucks were waiting to cross into Belarus early Sunday, according to spokesman for the local tax office, Michal Derus. The waiting time was 32 hours, he said.
The road leading to the border point has been closed and the police were separating the protesters from the trucks and the drivers, road infrastructure authorities said.
The pressure of truck traffic on the Koroszczyn border point increased after Poland’s largest crossing into Belarus, in Kuznica, was closed in November, following border guard clashes with Middle East migrants who were trying to illegally cross into Poland, European Union member.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called on the European Union to halt all land and sea trade with Russia.