The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Zelensky rejects Russian ultimatums; strike on Kyiv mall kills 8

Rescuers rushed to rescue people beneath the rubble after a shopping district in northwest Kyiv was shelled on March 20, Ukraine's state emergency service said. (Video: The Washington Post)
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KYIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky remained defiant Monday, saying he would never agree to an ultimatum from Russia or surrender Ukraine’s cities, even as the Kremlin continued its bombardment of the capital, the coast and elsewhere.

As Moscow sought its first strategic victory in a war that appears to be approaching a stalemate in many places, it issued a warning to leaders in Mariupol: flee, or face further attacks. Ukrainian officials rejected the demands, and the fate of the southeastern port city is uncertain. In remarks published by a Ukrainian public TV channel, Zelensky said the country “cannot fulfill ultimatums.”

In Kyiv, an attack on a shopping mall late Sunday reduced much of the area to rubble, killing at least eight people and leaving civilians on edge. The capital remains one of Moscow’s primary targets. Military experts have warned that the Kremlin could turn to progressively deadlier siege tactics and missile strikes in civilian areas to compensate for its lack of battlefield progress in the three-week war. With diplomatic efforts making minimal advances, the war’s human toll continues to climb.

Here’s what to know

  • Ukrainian officials said seven of the eight humanitarian corridors for Ukrainians fleeing violence operated successfully Monday, allowing just over 8,000 people to evacuate, most from Mariupol and the Kyiv region. Ukraine has accused Moscow of forcing some evacuees into Russian-controlled areas and of attacking civilian convoys, assertions that Russia rejects.
  • Ukrainians have grown more confident in their country’s ability to repel Russia’s invasion, according to a new poll that found 91 percent of Ukrainian respondents believe Ukraine will emerge victorious from the war.
  • In a video posted Monday, Zelensky made a direct appeal to the German people, asking for further restrictions against Russia and support for Ukraine’s bid for European Union membership.
  • The White House is urging U.S. businesses to increase their cybersecurity capabilities, citing intelligence that the Russian government is exploring options for potential attacks.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine, providing unlimited digital access to our coverage. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.