“The elimination of our troops, of our men (in Mariupol) will end all negotiations” between Ukraine and Russia, Zelensky said in an interview with the news website Ukrainska Pravda. “That will be a deadlock, as we are not negotiating over our territories, nor about our people.”
“That will be a deadlock, as we are not negotiating over our territories, nor about our people.”
The strategic port of Mariupol has been one of the worst hit since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
By taking the port, Russia could connect by land to the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and the Moscow-backed separatist states of eastern Ukraine.
The port was surrounded by Russian troops shortly after the invasion, but the Ukrainian army, too manned and armed, held out.
Civilians of Mariupol have suffered the most from the battle, huddled for weeks in unserviced cellars.
Russian forces have gradually invaded the city, but groups of Ukrainian troops are holding out from the city’s giant metallurgical and heavy engineering factories, both of which have a vast network of underground tunnels.