Ukraine has defied an ultimatum by the Russian military for its forces to surrender the city of Mariupol, as shelling intensified on Saturday morning. The ultimatum, which was issued late on Friday night, gave Ukraine's forces by 10:00 GMT on Sunday to give up control of the strategic port on the Azov Sea or face a full-scale assault by Russian troops and pro-Russian rebels. But Ukraine immediately rejected the demand and said it would defend Mariupol to the last bullet.
The people of Mariupol have continued to live their lives as normally as possible, in the face of an overwhelming Russian military presence.
Despite the ongoing conflict, the city has shown incredible resilience. Local businesses have kept their doors open, and the people have continued to support each other.
This is in stark contrast to what has happened in other cities in eastern Ukraine, which have been taken over by Russian forces. In these cities, the local businesses have closed down, and in light of the recent events in Eastern Ukraine, there have been an increasing number of displaced persons. According to the latest reports, there are now over a million people who have been displaced as a result of the conflict. This has created a humanitarian crisis, as these people are struggling to find food, shelter, and other basic necessities
The Ukrainian government has announced that it will be opening humanitarian corridors to help those people escape the violence. These corridors will be open both east and west of Mariupol on Monday at 10am Eastern Time.
Mariupol, Ukraine has seen some of the heaviest bombardments in the entire conflict. The city is strategically important because it lies on the coast of the Sea of Azov, and it is the closest major city to the Russian border. The separatists have been trying to take Mariupol for weeks, and the Ukrainian military has been doing everything possible to prevent that from happening.
The situation in Mariupol is extremely critical. If the separatists take the city, they will have a direct route to the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk. This would give them control over the entire Sea of Azov.
Russian forces believe that there are still an estimated 2,500 Ukranian soldiers within Mariupol.