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UK condemns claims Russia is deporting Ukrainian citizens to do forced labour

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iz Truss has condemned the “abduction and deportation” of Ukrainians from the besieged city of Mariupol, in a move that has been likened to Nazi Germany.

A Ukrainian MP claimed that her countrymen and women were being forced to relocate to “distant parts of Russia” to work in conditions akin to slave labour.

The Foreign Secretary said she was “appalled” by the reports and vowed for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be “held to account” for his treatment of civilians during the invasion.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine (PA Graphics) / PA Graphics

Mariupol is in the throes of a humanitarian emergency after being encircled by Russian troops, cut off from energy, food and water supplies and facing a relentless bombardment.

According to reports, the south-east coastal city is under fierce fighting and could potentially fall into Russian hands, with the Kremlin issuing an ultimatum for Ukrainian soldiers to put down their weapons by the early hours of Monday.

Russian news agency Tass cited a statement from Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian national defence control centre, stating that Moscow forces would allow residents to escape their battered dwellings if the request to lay down arms was complied with.

Tass said Mariupol had been given until 5am to respond, but Ukraine rejected the offer.

The port’s capture would mark a rare advance in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance that has dashed Russia’s hopes for a quick victory, with fighting having lasted more than three weeks.

On Sunday, city authorities said a bomb destroyed an art school where 400 people had taken shelter, with rescuers searching for people possibly trapped under the rubble.

Only days before the shelling, there was a separate attack on a theatre in the city where more than 1,000 people were said to have been bunkered.

Ms Truss tweeted: “I am appalled by Russian atrocities in Mariupol, including attacks on schools sheltering civilians and the abduction and deportation of Ukrainians.

“Putin is resorting to desperate measures as he is not achieving his objectives.

“Putin and his regime will be held to account.”

The reports that thousands of Mariupol’s residents have been abducted remains unverified, but Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun said that, according to information being shared by the port’s mayor, citizens were effectively being “relocated” by Moscow.

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