No surrenders yet: Russia renews call for Ukraine troops to lay down arms in Mariupol

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Russia’s Defense Ministry renewed its call to the Ukrainian soldiers remaining in the area of the Azovstal steel plant, the main stronghold in the besieged port city of Mariupol, to lay down their arms and surrender by Wednesday, state news agency TASS reported.

The ministry said it will observe a ceasefire in the area of Azovstal, which will come into effect from midnight Moscow time on April 20.

It added that not a single Ukrainian soldier had accepted the same offer of surrender it presented on Tuesday.

“As of 22:00 Moscow time on April 19, no one used the indicated corridor,” the head of the National Defense Control Center of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General Mikhail said. Russia had earlier said it opened a “humanitarian corridor for the withdrawal of Ukrainian servicemen and militants of nationalist formations who voluntarily laid down their arms from Azovstal.”

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The Azovstal steel plant is sheltering thousands of soldiers and civilians and is one of the last substantial holdouts in Mariupol – an important target for the Russians.

The port city has been under relentless bombardment for weeks and would allow Moscow to establish control over territory linking the Donbas in south-eastern Ukraine to annexed Crimea.

Ukrainian officials said earlier on Tuesday that Russia is attacking the Azovstal steel plant with bunker-buster bombs.

Mizintsev added: “If the commanders of the Ukrainian armed formations refuse to lay down their arms, we call on the Kiev authorities to influence the militants in guaranteed observance of the silence regime for the withdrawal of civilians, if any, are on the territory of Azovstal.”

“The leadership of Russia guarantees to all those who lay down their arms the preservation of life, complete security, the provision of qualified medical care and compliance with the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war,” TASS said.

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