UKRAINE (April 17, 2022)—Ukrainian officials have rejected demands by Russian forces that defenders of the city of Mariupol should lay down their arms.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said in an interview with ABC that Ukrainian forces still in the city would “fight to the end”.
Troops of the Azov Battalion are still holed up in the massive Azovstal steel complex, but Russia has offered safe passage to those who surrender.
Capturing the whole of the city is seen as a major strategic prize for Russia, leaving it in control of a vast swathe of southern and eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile in Kharkiv, bombardments continue, with at least five people killed and 13 injured. Fires are said to be raging throughout the city.
The BBC’s Joe Inwood in Dnipro says air raid sirens across eastern Ukraine have gone from sporadic to near constant.
As many population centres in eastern Ukraine come under fire, what about the residents who have been left behind as most people leave?
The small village of Serhiivka was completely quiet on Sunday – hardly a person on the streets or milling around the centre of the village, where you would normally find life.
There used to be 1,500 people here, but today there are only about 300 residents left, and more are leaving as Russia renews its campaign.
“I have lived here all my life, I’m not going anywhere,” said Mykola Luhynets, a 59-year-old carrying a rifle and wearing the armband of the territorial defence. Luhynets signed up and took a gun in February. “I will stay in Serhiivka and defend it if necessary,” he said.