Ukrainian officials defiantly rejected a Russian demand that their forces in Mariupol lay down their arms and raise white flags Monday in exchange for safe passage out of the besieged port city.
As Russia intensified its effort to pound Mariupol into submission, its ground offensive in other parts of Ukraine has become bogged down. Western officials and analysts say the conflict is turning into a grinding war of attrition, with Russia bombarding cities.
In the capital, Kyiv, a shopping center in the densely populated Podil district near the city center was a smoking ruin after being hit late Sunday by shelling that killed eight people, according to emergency officials. The attack shattered every window in a neighboring high-rise.
Ukrainian authorities also said Russia shelled a chemical plant in northeastern Ukraine, sending toxic ammonia leaking into the air, and hit a military training base in the west with cruise missiles.
The encircled southern city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov has seen some of the worst horrors of the war, under Russian pounding for more than three weeks, in what Ukrainian and Western officials have branded a war crime.
Hours before Russia’s offer to open corridors out of the city in return for the capitulation of its defenders, an art school where some 400 people were taking shelter was hit by an airstrike, according to Ukrainian officials.
“They are under the rubble, and we don’t know how many of them have survived,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. In a video address, he vowed that Ukraine would “shoot down the pilot who dropped that bomb.”
Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev had offered two corridors — one heading east toward Russia, the other west to other parts of Ukraine — in return for Mariupol’s surrender. He did not say what Russia would do if the offer was rejected.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said authorities in Mariupol could face a military tribunal if they sided with what it described as “bandits,” the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
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