Despite having faced heavy bombardment in recent days, Ukraine on Monday, 21 March, rejected Russia's call to surrender the port city of Mariupol, where thousands of residents are trapped with scarce resources, including food, water and power – as Ukraine continues to defend its territory.
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk stated clearly on Monday, "There can be no question of any surrender, laying down of arms," the Ukrainska Pravda news portal reported. "We have already informed the Russian side about this," she added.
Vereshchuk responded after Russia called on Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to lay down their arms, declaring that a "terrible humanitarian catastrophe" was unfolding.
Russia said defenders who would do so (lay down arms) were guaranteed safe passage out of the city and humanitarian corridors would be opened from 1000 Moscow time (12.30 pm IST) on Monday.
Further, Vereshchuk informed that over 7,000 people had been evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, with more than half from Mariupol, Reuters reported.
She added that the government planned to send nearly 50 buses to Mariupol on Monday for further evacuations.
Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy spoke to CNN, warning that only direct negotiations with Russia would end the war in his country, and if not, it would mean third World War.
"I’m ready for negotiations. I was ready for the last two years. And without negotiations we cannot end this war," he stated, adding that "we have to use any format, any chance, in order to have the possibility of negotiating the possibility of talking to Putin. But if these attempts fail, that would mean that this is third World War."
Zelenskyy also addressed the Israeli parliament by video link on Sunday, questioning Israel's reluctance to sell its Iron Dome missile defence system to Ukraine.
He had said, "Everybody knows that your missile defence systems are the best... and that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews."