Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces guarding the strategic port of Mariupol, which had been under siege for weeks by troops from Moscow, must surrender to help civilians there.
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“In order to find a solution to the difficult humanitarian situation in this city, Ukrainian nationalist fighters must stop resisting and lay down their weapons,” Putin said in a statement to the Kremlin, capturing a telephone exchange with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.
According to this source, mr. Putin told his French counterpart in Ukraine about “measures taken by the Russian military to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and evacuate civilians safely.”
The Kremlin said the two leaders discussed Tuesday’s Russia-Ukrainian talks in Istanbul and issues related to Moscow’s decision to demand payment in rubles for gas exports.
“Agreed to continue contacts” between MM. Putin and Macron, the Kremlin added.