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Ukraine Troops Ignore Russian Surrender Demands In Mariupol As Fighting Continues

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said troops in Mariupol were still fighting despite a Russian demand to surrender by dawn.

Ukrainian soldiers have resisted a Russian ultimatum to lay down arms in the pulverised port of Mariupol, which Moscow says its forces have almost completely seized in what would be its biggest prize of the nearly two-month war.

"The city still has not fallen," he told ABC's "This Week" program, adding that Ukrainian soldiers continue to control some parts of the southeastern Ukrainian city.

Russia said on Saturday it had control of urban areas, with some Ukrainian fighters remaining in the Azovstal steelworks overlooking the Sea of Azov.

Capturing Mariupol, the main port in the Donbas region, would be a strategic prize for Russia, connecting territory held by pro-Russian separatists in the east with the Crimea region that Moscow annexed in 2014.

After failing to overcome Ukrainian resistance in the north, the Russian military has refocused its ground offensive on Donbas while launching long-distance strikes at targets elsewhere including the capital, Kyiv.

About four million Ukrainians have fled the country, cities have been shattered and thousands have died since the start of the invasion on February 24.

The economic damage is significant too - Shmyhal said Ukraine's budget deficit was around $US5 billion a month and called for Western governments to provide more financial aid.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Twitter he had discussed ensuring Ukraine's financial stability and preparations for post-war reconstruction with International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva. She replied that support was "essential to lay the foundations for rebuilding a modern competitive #Ukraine."

Earlier, he posted on his Telegram account images of destruction he said were akin to World War Two.

"The occupiers will be responsible for everything they did in Ukraine," Zelenskiy said.

Implicitly criticising Russia, Pope Francis pleaded for an end to the bloodshed and lamented the "Easter of war" during his address in St. Peter's Square after Mass.

"May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged," he said.

Zelenskiy accused Russia on Saturday of "deliberately trying to destroy everyone" in Mariupol.

The Azovstal steelworks, one of Europe's biggest metallurgical plants with a maze of rail tracks, tunnels and blast furnaces, has become a last stand for the city's outnumbered defenders.

"All who lay down their arms are guaranteed that their lives will be spared," Russia's Defence Ministry said on Saturday.

It was not known how many soldiers were in the steelworks. Satellite images have shown smoke and fire coming from the area. Zelenskiy has said killing his troops would put an end to peace efforts.

Russia said Ukraine had lost more than 4000 soldiers in Mariupol as of Saturday. Kyiv says its total troop losses nationwide so far in the war are less than that, between 2500 and 3000. Reuters has not been able to verify either side's figures.

Russia calls its action a special military operation to demilitarise Ukraine and eradicate what it calls dangerous nationalists. The West and Kyiv accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of unprovoked aggression.

There have been on-off negotiations between Ukraine and Russia since the start of the war.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, there were more reports on Sunday of Russian strikes around major population centres.

Local media reported an explosion in Kyiv, though deputy mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said air defence systems had thwarted Russian attacks. The mayor of Brovary city, close to Kyiv, said a missile attack had damaged infrastructure.

Russia said it had destroyed an ammunition factory near the capital, according to the RIA news agency.

Shelling in Ukraine's second biggest city, Kharkiv, killed five people and injured 13, Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne reported.

"This is nothing but deliberate terror: mortars, artillery against ordinary residential quarters, against ordinary civilians," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.