Vladimir Putin has demanded the full surrender of all Ukrainian defense in Mariupol before the devastating barrage of artillery stops.
The Kremlin states that the Russian President made this comment in an hour-long phone call with French President Emanuel Macron Tuesday evening.
French officials have reported that Putin had agreed to consider the possibility of a civilian evacuation of the city. The humanitarian corridors in the region have proven to be inconsistent, with reports of Russian shelling hitting the corridors earlier in the Mariupol siege.
A full-day ceasefire has since been announced by Russia for Thursday. Russia’s defense ministry has said the ceasefire will begin at 10:00 local time and would allow for westward travel to Zaporizhzhia, through the Russian-controlled Berdyansk port.
The defense ministry urged Red Cross and the UN’s refugee agency to take participate in the evacuation and was still waiting for approval from Ukraine for this proposal.
Many are critical of this proposal, citing claims that Russia may forcibly relocate the civilians to Russian-controlled land, or will break the ceasefire entirely as they were accused of doing earlier in the invasion.
New satellite images have also been released detailing the destruction wrought by the frequent shelling.
The images, taken by Earth observation company Maxar, showed in detail the vast damage done to residential areas of Mariupol, and clearly showed the positions of Russian artillery cannons in position around the port city’s perimeter.
French Elyseé palace officials had called the Mariupol situation “catastrophic,” adding that “civilian populations must be protected and must leave the city if they wish to. They must have access to food aid, water, and the medicines they need.”
“This very degraded humanitarian situation is linked to the siege of the city by the Russian armed forces,” they continued.
Several humanitarian groups, alongside Turkey, Greece, and France, have laid out a plan to Putin detailing the evacuation. Officials have said that Putin told Emanuel Macron he will “think about” the proposal.
Putin’s cooperation may rest on Mariupol’s defense force surrendering, as he told Macron that “to resolve the difficult humanitarian situation in this city, Ukrainian nationalist militants must stop resisting and lay down their arms”.
The mayor of Mariupol claims that thousands of civilians have died during the siege. This estimate is backed up by the head of the UN human rights mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, who told Reuters that she thinks “there could be thousands of deaths, civilian casualties, in Mariupol”.