the last stand
Russia's Ministry of Defense said Sunday that Ukrainian forces still defending Mariupol "will be eliminated" after they refused another ultimatum to "voluntarily lay down arms and surrender," CNN reports.
Per CNN, Ukrainian troops were told to leave Mariupol between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time, leaving all weapons and ammunition behind.
The ministry also claimed that the city's remaining defenders had been forbidden to surrender by "the Kiev nationalist regime." Last month, The New York Times reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "had told Ukrainian soldiers still holding out" in Mariupol "that they could abandon the city to save their own lives."
On Saturday, Zelensky described the situation in Mariupol as "inhuman" and "as severe as possible," according to The Hill. Mariupol's mayor claims that over 10,000 of the city's civilian inhabitants have been killed since Russia's siege began early in the invasion.
Ukrainian forces, including soldiers from the right-wing Azov Battalion, are making what is likely to be a final stand inside Mariupol's large steel plant. If the city falls, Russia will control an unbroken "land bridge" connecting separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine with Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.