Russia has announced it will observe a ceasefire today to provide ‘humanitarian corridors’ for Ukrainian civilians in Kyiv and four other cities trying to escape Vladimir Putin’s bombs.
Kremlin forces will stop firing from 10am Moscow time (7am London time) on Wednesday March 9, and provide corridors from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol, Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre, told Russia’s Tass news agency.
The senior official claimed that information about the proposed corridors would be sent to Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk.
However, efforts to relieve the besieged port of Mariupol have been thrown into jeopardy by reports of renewed Russian shelling. Vereshchuk said earlier on Tuesday that authorities had once again not been able to evacuate civilians due to Kremlin attacks.
Moscow’s forces have laid siege to Ukrainian cities and cut off food, water, heat, and medicine in a growing humanitarian disaster, but for days, attempts to create corridors to safely evacuate civilians have stumbled amid continuing fighting and objections to the proposed routes.
Mizintsev earlier said Ukrainian authorities had endorsed only one civilian evacuation route from areas affected by fighting out of 10 that were proposed, including five towards territory controlled by Kyiv.
Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the Second World War grew even more severe, with UN officials reporting that 2million people have now fled Ukraine.
It comes as Ukraine accused Russia of carrying out new airstrikes on residential areas in eastern and central parts of the embattled country.
Kyiv claimed that two people, including a seven-year-old child, were killed in the town of Chuhuiv just east of Kharkivlate Tuesday. And in the city of Malyn in the Zhytomyr region west of the capital at least five people, including two children, were killed in a Russian airstrike.
The Russian artillery has pounded the outskirts of Kyiv, forcing civilians to hide in shelters while water, food, and power supplies have been cut, said Yaroslav Moskalenko, an official who coordinates humanitarian efforts in the Kyiv region.