Ukrainian foreign minister says Mariupol 'doesn't exist anymore' as officials estimate 21,000 civilian losses

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  • Russian forces have sieged the port city of Mariupol since the start of Russia's invasion.

  • On Sunday, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CBS News that the city no longer exists.

  • Russia's military says about 2,500 Ukrainian forces are holding out in a steel plant.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Sunday said Mariupol, which has been under siege since the start of the invasion, said the city "doesn't exist anymore."

"The situation in Mariupol is both dire militarily and heartbreaking. The city doesn't exist anymore. The remainings of the Ukrainian army and large group of civilians are basically encircled by the Russian forces. They continue their struggle, but it seems from the way the Russian army behaves in Mariupol, they decided to raze the city to the ground at any cost," Kuleba told CBS News's Face the Nation in an interview.

Much of the port city has fallen to Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists. Last week France 24 reported that Mayor Vadym Boychenko estimated that 90% of the city's infrastructure had been destroyed.

During a Friday appearance on CNN Pavlo Kiryienka, the governor of the Donetsk region, said Mariupol "has been wiped off the face of the earth by the Russian Federation."

On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry gave Ukrainian forces an ultimate to lay down their weapons by midday, saying "surrender and live."

Ukrainians have refused to surrender and said Mariupol still stands, CNN reported. The Russian military said about 2,500 Ukrainian fighters were still holding off at the Azovstal steel plant, CBS News reported.

Ukrainian officials have estimated that about 21,000 civilians were killed in Mariupol. An estimated 100,000 civilians still remain in the city.

Earlier on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said any negotiations would end if Russia continued to mercilessly attack soldiers and civilians.

"The stronger we are, the better the outcome of these talks will be. The more Borodyanka-like cases appear, there will be no chance that negotiations will be held actually," he said, referencing a town destroyed by Russian forces.

Kuleba's remarks also come a few days after he spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about further military aid for Ukraine.

Last week, the US announced that it would send an additional $800 million in weapons and security assistance to Ukraine.

Read the original article on Business Insider