Ukraine said on Monday it would not obey ultimatums from Russia after Moscow demanded it stop defending besieged Mariupol, where hundreds of thousands of civilians are suffering through Russian bombardments laying waste to their city.
Mariupol has become a focal point of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, but attacks were also reported to have intensified on the country’s second city Kharkiv on Monday.
The conflict has driven almost a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, and Germany predicted the refugee number could reach as high as 10 million in coming weeks.
Europe said Russia was using refugees as a tool and that it was prepared to take more action on top of existing sanctions to isolate Russia from global finances and trade.
Russia’s military had ordered residents of Mariupol to surrender by 5 a.m. local time on Monday, saying those who did so could leave, while those who stayed would be handed to tribunals run by Moscow-backed separatists.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government responded that it would never bow to ultimatums and said cities such as the capital Kyiv, Mariupol and Kharkiv would always defy occupation.