Ukraine on Wednesday proposed to hold a “special round” of negotiations with Russia in the besieged city of Mariupol, a top Kyiv official said.
“Yes. Without any conditions. We’re ready to hold a ‘special round of negotiations’ right in Mariupol,” top Ukraine negotiator and presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.
“One on one. Two on two. To save our guys, Azov, military, civilians, children, the living & the wounded. Everyone. Because they are ours. Because they are in my heart. Forever.”
Another key Ukrainian negotiator, David Arakhamia, said on Telegram that he and Podolyak “are ready to arrive in Mariupol to hold talks with the Russian side on the evacuation of our military garrison and civilians”.
As yet another desperate attempt to evacuate civilians from Mariupol failed Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that “the situation in Mariupol is deteriorating” with thousands of troops and civilians stuck in the city.
Earlier Wednesday, Svyatoslav Palamar, a commander in the nationalist Azov regiment that has been defending the city against Russia’s siege, said his forces were ready to be evacuated together with civilians from the strategic southern port.
“We are ready to be evacuated with the help of a third party from the city of Mariupol with our small arms,” Palamar said in a video posted on Telegram.
He added that the goal was “To evacuate the wounded, get the bodies of the dead out and to bury them with honours on territory not controlled by the Russian Federation.”
At the same time, Palamar said his unit would not heed Russia’s demands for the troops to surrender fully with their weapons.
Palamar called on the “whole civilised world to be the guarantors of our safety” at these negotiations.
There was no immediate reaction from Moscow to the proposal.
Earlier in the day, another Azov commander in the besieged Azovstal steel plant, Serhiy Volyna, issued a desperate plea for help, saying his marines were “maybe facing our last days, if not hours”.
“The enemy is outnumbering us 10 to one,” he said.
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