Russia Ukraine conflict

Putin says Kyiv refusing to allow Mariupol troops to surrender

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused Kyiv of refusing to allow Ukrainian troops to surrender in the besieged port city of Mariupol, as he spoke to EU chief Charles Michel.

“All servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces, militants of the national battalions and foreign mercenaries who laid down their arms are guaranteed life, decent treatment in accordance with international law, and the provision of quality medical care,” Putin told the European Council President, the Kremlin said.

“But the Kyiv regime is not allowing for this opportunity to be used.”

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Ukraine says hundreds of its forces and civilians are holed up inside the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and Kyiv has repeatedly called for a ceasefire to allow women, children and the elderly to safely exit the shattered city.

During what the Kremlin called “lengthy” phone talks with Michel, Putin also said that “numerous war crimes” of Ukrainian forces have been ignored.

Putin denounced “the irresponsible statements of EU representatives about the need to resolve the situation in Ukraine militarily,” the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin did not provide details, but Putin appeared to be referring to a statement on Twitter by European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, who said that “this war will be won on the battlefield.”

Putin also urged Brussels to pressure Ukrainian forces into halting “mass” attacks on settlements in eastern Ukraine and other “crude violations” of international humanitarian law.

The Russian leader accused leaders of most EU countries of encouraging “open Russophobia” in culture and sport.

The Kremlin reiterated that a meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy depended on the results of ongoing talks and accused Kyiv of being inconsistent and “not ready to look for mutually acceptable solutions.”

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