'Surrender or die': Russia gives chilling ultimatum to Ukrainian troops in Mariupol

17 April 2022, 16:48 | Updated: 17 April 2022, 16:54

Russian troops told Ukrainian soldiers to "surrender or die"
Russian troops told Ukrainian soldiers to "surrender or die". Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Russian troops told Ukrainian soldiers to "surrender or die" in an ultimatum as they continued to bombard the city of Mariupol on Sunday.

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According to reports only a handful of Ukrainian troops remain fighting in Mariupol in the giant Azovstal steelworks, with officials warning the "situation is critical" for both soldiers and civilians in the city.

In a statement, the Russian Defence Ministry said: "The Russian Armed Forces offer the militants of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries from 6am (Moscow time) on April 17, 2022, to stop any hostilities and lay down their arms.

"All who lay down their arms are guaranteed that their lives will be spared."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Putin is trying to "destroy everyone" in the sea port city as he issued his own stark warning that the continuing siege of Mariupol could scuttle any attempts to find a negotiated end to the war.

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"The destruction of all our guys in Mariupol - what they are doing now - can put an end to any format of negotiations," Mr Zelensky said in an interview on Saturday.

The president's office said the southern port city is holding out but the situation is critical.

Mariupol has been a key objective for Russia since the start of its invasion on February 24.

Capturing the city would allow Moscow to establish a land corridor to Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014 and deprive Ukraine of a major port and prized industrial assets.

The giant Azovstal steel mill and other industrial plants have been heavily damaged by the ferocious Russian bombardment that has flattened much of Mariupol, indiscriminately hitting homes, hospitals and other public buildings and killing thousands.

The victims include about 300 people killed in last month's Russian air strike on the Mariupol Drama Theatre that was being used as a shelter and had the word "children" printed in Russian in huge white letters on the pavement outside to ward off aerial attack.

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko told the Associated Press that at least 21,000 people were killed in Mariupol with bodies "carpeted through the streets".

He said the Russians deployed mobile cremation equipment to Mariupol to methodically dispose of the victims' bodies in order to hide the evidence of the massacre and prevent international organisations from documenting "the horror the Russian army is responsible for".

Locals have reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies from residential courtyards and prohibiting new burials. It was unclear why.

Read more: 'He won't make it home': Second Brit captured by Russians and paraded on state TV

'It makes you worry how nasty Putin will get.'

Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said Russia's ultimate objective remains the same despite its shifted "operational focus" to eastern Ukraine.

"It is committed to compelling Ukraine to abandon its Euro-Atlantic orientation and asserting its own regional dominance," it said early on Sunday morning.

Yesterday it was revealed that a second British fighter had been paraded by Putin on state TV, after he was captured by Russian troops whilst defending Mariupol.

In the clip shared on social media, ex-British Army soldier Shaun Pinner, 48, can be seen in a blue hoodie telling the camera that he was captured by Russian troops in Mariupol.

He says: "Hi I'm Shaun Pinner, I am a citizen of the UK, I was captured in Mariupol I am part of the 36 Brigade First Battalion Ukrainian Marines.

"I was fighting in Mariupol for five-six weeks and now I'm in Donetsk People's Republic."

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The clip was posted on Twitter with the caption: "Another mercenary was caught in Mariupol.

"Shaun Pinner is an English mercenary. He says that he no longer needs the war and he wants to go home. He won't make it home.

"Captured Ukrainian soldiers testify about the atrocities of foreign mercenaries. And after the trial, they face the death penalty."

Mr Pinner now faces interrogation by the Russian Investigative Committee.

Pinner who previously served in the Royal Anglian Regiment, had travelled to Ukraine to fight as a "contract soldier".

He is the second British fighter to be captured in Mariupol after Aiden Aslin was detained earlier this week.

Aiden Aslin was seen looking bruised, one eye close to being shut, as he is posed with his arms horizontal in front of him on Russian state TV.

The 27-year-old former care worker, known as Johnny, and other international volunteers were reported to have laid down arms earlier this week.

They had run out of food and ammunition as they tried to fight off forces in the devastated city of Mariupol, in the south of the country.

A post shared by a contact on Twitter read: "It's been 48 days, we tried our best to defend Mariupol but we have no choice but to surrender to Russian forces.

"We have no food and no ammunition. It's been a pleasure everyone, I hope this war ends soon."

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