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Ukraine's PM says troops will 'fight to the end' against Russians in Mariupol

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 17 April 2022 6:20 PM

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says his country's forces will "fight to the end" against Russians in Mariupol, and that the strategic port city has "not fallen" yet.

Shmyhal's interview with ABC's This Week program on Sunday came just hours after the expiration of a Russian-set ultimatum for the surrender of the remaining Ukrainian fighters who have holed up in a fortress-like steelworks in the city.

Mariupol has been besieged by Russian troops since March 1, but an unclear number of Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the city are still holding out against the Russian troops despite overwhelming odds.

"The city still has not fallen. There're still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end," the Ukrainian prime minister stated.

A day earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned if Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol were killed, peace talks with Moscow would be scrapped. His Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, has already said the talks were at a "dead end."

Elsewhere in his remarks on Sunday, Shmyhal said Kiev sought a diplomatic solution "if possible." However, he 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," the Ukrainian prime minister said. Ukrainian troops, he added, have managed to liberate over 900 towns and cities so far.

The fall of Mariupol will be a major blow to Kiev, strategically and symbolically, since Moscow will then be able to open a land route to the Crimean peninsula, which joined Russia in 2014.

Shmyhal once again called on the West to send more ammunition and weaponry as well as financial assistance.

Ukraine suffers from a "huge humanitarian catastrophe," and needs further help "to save" its "economy for future recovery," he said. "Now, only half of our economy is working" and the country faces a huge monthly budget deficit of $5 billion.

Putin announced a "special military operation" on February 24 to demilitarize Donetsk and Luhansk, largely populated by ethnic Russians, in eastern Ukraine. The United States and its European allies have labeled the military operation "Putin's land grab," imposing waves of unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.

The Kremlin says it will halt the operation instantly if Kiev meets Russia's list of demands, including never applying to join NATO. Washington justifies NATO's enlargement as a move in response to Russia's operation in Ukraine.

Moscow: Russian forces 'destroyed' military factory outside Kiev

Separately on Sunday, Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement the armed forces had struck a military plant outside Kiev. "During the night, high-precision, air-launched missiles destroyed an ammunition factory near the settlement of Brovary, Kiev region."

Igor Sapozhko, the mayor of Brovary, a city in Kiev Oblast in northern Ukraine, said "some infrastructure objects were hit" in the early hours of Sunday.

'Ramped-up NATO military activity in Arctic worrying'

On Sunday, Russian Ambassador-at-large Nikolai Korchunov warned the Kremlin was worried about what he termed NATO's increased activity in the Arctic. He said Russia sees risks of "unintended incidents" occurring in the region.

"The recent increase in NATO's activity in the Arctic is a cause for concern. Another large-scale military exercise of the alliance was recently held in northern Norway. In our view, this does not contribute to the security of the region."

In March, Finland and Sweden carried out combined NATO military exercises. The drills were long planned, but the war in Ukraine added intensity to the war game.

The war in Ukraine has made a dramatic U-turn in public and political opinion in Finland and Sweden alike over long-held policies of military non-alignment, urging both countries to consider joining the US-led military coalition.

On April 14, the former Russian president and current deputy head of Russia's Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, warned Moscow would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in a European exclave close to the Baltic States if Finland and Sweden join NATO.

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