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Ukraine defies Russia’s Sievierodonetsk ultimatum

Ukraine ignored a Russian ultimatum to surrender the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk as NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss sending more heavy weapons to replenish Kyiv’s dwindling stocks.

Plans announced by Moscow to open a humanitarian corridor for civilians stuck in the plant were disrupted by Ukrainian shelling, Russian-backed separatists were quoted by RIA news agency as saying. The separatists had planned to take the civilians to territory under their own control.

Reuters reports that Russia had told Ukrainian forces holed up in a chemical plant in the shattered city to stop “senseless resistance and lay down arms pressing its advantage in the battle for control of eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile Ukarine has more than 500 civilians, including 40 children, are trapped alongside soldiers inside the Azot chemical factory, where its forces have resisted weeks of Russian bombardment that has reduced much of Sievierodonetsk to ruins.

The mayor of Sievierodonetsk, Oleksandr Stryuk said after the early morning deadline passed that Russian forces were trying to storm the city from several directions but Ukrainian forces continued to defend it and were not completely cut off.

Writing by Marian Benjamin