After enduring a brutal assault for more than a month, Ukrainian fighters in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol rejected a Russian deadline to surrender on Sunday and vowed to fight on.
Here's what you need to know:
- The situation on the ground: Mariupol has been surrounded by Russian troops since March 1, with much of the city and its immediate surroundings reported to be largely under Russian control. However, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Mariupol has not yet fallen. Ukrainian troops trapped in the city are holding out despite overwhelming odds — but they are confined to pockets of resistance, and their numbers are unclear.
- Russian forces to close entry: Mariupol will be closed for entry and exit starting on Monday and men remaining in the city would be "filtered out," Russian forces said, according to an adviser for the mayor. The Russians had begun issuing passes for movement within the city, the adviser Petro Andriushchenko said, adding that citizens will not be able to go out onto the streets or move between districts without one. CNN cannot independently verify the claims.
- Russia's demand: Russia's Ministry of Defense called on the Ukrainian soldiers still in Mariupol to lay down arms surrender by 1 p.m. local time on Sunday, warning anyone still resisting after the deadline "will be eliminated." It also said trapped "foreign mercenaries who joined the Ukrainian forces," including Europeans and Canadians, "will be eliminated" if there is further resistance.
- The Ukrainian response: "There are still our military forces, our soldiers, so they will fight until the end and as for now they are still in Mariupol," Shmyhal said on Sunday. An adviser to Mariupol's mayor also rejected the Russian ultimatum, saying, "as of today, our defenders continue to hold the defense." The Russian defense ministry confirmed their ultimatum had been ignored.
- Red line in negotiations: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Sunday the situation in Mariupol "may be a red line" in negotiations with Russia. “The city doesn’t exist anymore. The remaining of the Ukrainian army and a large group of civilians are basically encircled by the Russian forces," he said on CBS' “Face the Nation."
- Civilians and casualties: Though many residents have fled, an estimated 100,000 people still remain in Mariupol and its immediate surroundings. The military governor of Donetsk region, where Mariupol is located, said on Tuesday up to 22,000 people may have died in the city. CNN cannot verify the figures, as there are no independent casualty numbers from the fighting in the city available.