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Ukrainian forces will ‘fight to the end’ in Mariupol: PM

Denys Shmyhal's statement comes hours after a Russian ultimatum for the surrender of encircled forces



AFP
AFP

By AFP

Published: Sun 17 Apr 2022, 6:40 PM

Ukraine’s prime minister said Sunday that the strategic port city of Mariupol “has not fallen” and that the encircled forces defending the city from Russian attack will “fight to the end.”

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal was speaking to ABC’s “This Week” hours after a Russian ultimatum for the surrender of those fighters, holed up in a fortress-like steelworks, had expired.

“The city still has not fallen,” he said. “There’s still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end.”

In a sign of the desperate situation facing the surrounded forces, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that if they were killed, peace talks with Moscow would be scrapped.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had already said the talks were at a “dead end.”

Shmyhal said on Sunday that Ukraine wanted a diplomatic solution “if possible,” but added: “If the Russians wouldn’t like negotiations, we’ll fight to the end, absolutely. We will not surrender.

“We won’t leave our country, our families, our land. We will fight to the end.”

Asked about reports that Putin believes Russia is winning the war, Shmyhal pushed back.

While several cities are under siege, he said, not one — with the exception of Kherson in the south — had fallen. He said more than 900 towns and cities had been liberated.

The capture of Mariupol, however, would represent a severe blow to Ukraine, both strategically and symbolically, as it would help Moscow open a land route to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Shmyhal again implored Western countries to send more ammunition and weapons to bolster outmanned Ukrainian forces, while also pleading for more financial help.

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The country, he said, is seeing a “huge humanitarian catastrophe,” and needs further help “to save our economy for future recovery.”

“Now, only half of our economy is working” and Ukraine faces a huge monthly budget deficit of $5 billion, Shmyhal said.

He said Ukrainian officials would be in Washington in the coming week to press the country’s needs at the spring meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.


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