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“With all our respect to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the president of a country which gives us moral support, we are ready to open humanitarian corridors to the Ukrainian troops who were surrounded with the condition that they surrender heavy weaponry and ammunition so that this weaponry and ammunition will not be used against us in future,” he said on Russia’s state Rossiya 24 television.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s national security council, Col. Andriy Lysenko, rejected that condition.

Ukraine is not ready to surrender arms and kneel in front of the aggressor,” he told reporters.

The U.N. human rights office on Friday accused both sides of deliberately targeting civilians.

Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have carried out murders, torture and abductions along with other serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, according to the mission’s field work between July 16 and Aug. 17. The report also said Ukraine’s military is guilty of human rights violations such as arbitrary detentions, disappearances and torture.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic, who visited Kiev on Friday, said the death toll had reached nearly 2,600 by Aug. 27, and described the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine as “alarming.”

Simonovic condemned rebels for preventing people from leaving cities caught up in the fighting. He also pointed to reports of violations by volunteer battalions under government control.

Putin compared Ukrainian troops firing at civilians and surrounding cities in eastern Ukraine to the Nazi siege of Leningrad. He said residents of Ukraine’s east were “suppressed with force” because they disagreed with what he called a coup in Kiev in February.

The Leningrad Siege comparison is a powerful one for Russians and clearly aimed at portraying the Ukraine conflict in stark and tendentious good-versus-evil terms. The 872-day siege, in which at least 670,000 civilians died, is a major touchstone for Russia’s exalted sense of heroism amid suffering.

To stop the bloodshed, the Kiev government should open talks with the rebels who took up arms in defense, he said.

At a meeting in Milan, several European Union foreign ministers accused Russia of invading eastern Ukraine and said Moscow should be punished with additional, biting economic sanctions.

The diplomats were expected to prepare further measures, which could then be decided by a summit of the bloc’s leaders Saturday in Brussels.

For the second day, Russian markets reacted nervously to the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine with the Russian ruble diving to the all-time low of 37.10 rubles against the U.S. dollar in early morning trading, but recovered later to 36.90 rubles.

In Donetsk, the largest city under rebel control, the mayor’s office reported sustained shelling across town on Friday morning. No casualties were immediately reported.