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Russia has ordered Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to surrender by Sunday morning

A local resident is sitting by a fire in a yard in front of a damaged building in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 14. (Alexander Ermochenko / Reuters)

In his last video address to the people of Ukraine on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky drew attention to the situation in the besieged port city of Mariupol and promised a better future after the end of hostilities.

“The situation in Mariupol remains as difficult as possible. It’s just inhuman, “Zelenski said. “Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone there in Mariupol.

Approximately 100,000 people remain in Mariupol and its immediate surroundings, which are largely under Russian control, with Ukrainian troops confined to pockets of resistance.

“There are only two ways to influence this,” Zelenski said. “Either our partners will give Ukraine all the necessary heavy weapons, planes and without exaggeration immediately … Or a path for negotiations in which the role of the partners must also be decisive.

Zelenski said his government was trying to end the siege of Mariupol every day: “Military or diplomatic – everything to save the people. But finding that solution is extremely difficult. “

“Although we have heard many intentions from those who wanted to help and who are really in positions of international influence, none of them have been realized yet. he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a mass evacuation by sea on March 25, but the plan failed. Zelensky said that every day, either he or the chief of the armed forces or the head of Ukraine’s negotiating team were “in contact with our defenders of Mariupol.” Every day”.

Rebuilding the Nation: Zelenski also said his government had begun planning for a post-war future.

“Today I held a meeting dedicated to the reconstruction of our cities,” he said. “Of course, that’s a huge amount of work. But still less than defending the state in war.”

The president added: “This is a historic moment; the moment when we can solve many old problems of the whole environment of our life once and for all ”.

Zelenski addressed the housing situation and what he called “the real modernization of our cities.”

“Millions of people know how difficult it is to get a home, to earn money for their own apartment, to build a house … Today I set myself the task of providing temporary housing to all our internally displaced persons. [internally displaced.]… Those whose house was destroyed by the war. Temporary housing until we rebuild their homes. “

The priority, he said, will be for veterans’ homes to “provide housing for all those who have defended or are defending the state, who have worked or are working in the public interest and do not have their own home.” It can’t be longer that a person spends his whole life in military service, but retires without having his own apartment. “

Zelensky also said memorials were being planned, one of which “will tell the story of the destroyed bridge in the Kiev region, which connected Irpin and Bucha with Kyiv. The story of the people who fled from Russian invaders in Kyiv, using this bridge and this time. “

The bridge was the escape route for thousands of civilians fleeing Russian bombing in March.