Authorities in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol said an evacuation of civilians scheduled for Saturday was postponed because Russian forces surrounding the city failed to honor an agreed ceasefire.
In a statement, the city council urged residents to return to emergency shelters in the city and await further information on the evacuation.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement it had agreed evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces to allow civilians to leave the strategic southeast port of Mariupol and the eastern town of Volnovakha “from 10 a.m. Moscow time.”
The vaguely worded statement did not say how long the routes would remain open.
The head of the Security Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, had urged Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and older adults to escape the fighting, calling such corridors “issue number one”.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said on Saturday that would be the case
further agreements with Russia to establish humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from frontline communities.
“There will certainly be further agreements of this type for all other territories,” he said, referring to an existing evacuation plan for the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol.
Today is the tenth day of war in Ukraine as fighting in Mariupol and Chernihiv continued overnight.
Last night, a Russian airstrike on a rural residential area in the Kyiv region killed at least seven people, including two children.
Police said the strike hit the village of Markhalivka, some 10 km from the south-west outskirts of the capital.
As Russian forces attack strategic locations, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “any people who die from this day forward will also die because of you.” will”.
In a separate video message to anti-war demonstrators in several European cities, Zelenskyy continued to appeal for help. “If we fall, you will fall,” he said.
Earlier in the day, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ruled out the possibility of a no-fly zone, saying NATO planes would have to shoot down Russian planes.
NATO said a no-fly zone in Europe could provoke widespread war with nuclear-armed Russia. But while the United States and other NATO members are sending arms to Kyiv and more than a million refugees are pouring across the continent, the conflict is already dragging countries well beyond Ukraine’s borders.
In his bitter and emotional speech late Friday, Zelenskyy slammed NATO for its lack of a no-fly zone and said it would completely relax Russia’s hands if it escalated its airstrike.
“The alliance has given the green light to bomb Ukrainian towns and villages,” he said, warning that “the history of Europe will remember this forever.”
Russia continues to crack down on independent media covering the war, also blocking Facebook and Twitter, and other media outlets say they are ceasing work in the country.
Ukraine’s president was scheduled to brief US senators via video conference on Saturday as Congress considers a request for $10 billion in emergency funding for humanitarian assistance and security needs.
And in a warning of an impending hunger crisis, the United Nations World Food Program says millions of people in Ukraine, a key global supplier of wheat, will need food aid “immediately”.
The UN Security Council has scheduled an open meeting on Monday on the deteriorating humanitarian situation.
The United Nations estimates that 12 million people in Ukraine and four million fleeing to neighboring countries will need humanitarian assistance in the coming months.
Russian forces on Friday made no significant progress in their offensive to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, which would deal a serious blow to the country’s economy. There were also no changes in the north and east, where the Russian offensive met stiff Ukrainian resistance.
While a huge column of Russian tanks threatening the Ukrainian capital remained blocked outside of Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military launched hundreds of rocket and artillery attacks on cities and other locations across the country.
Advisor to the President of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovich said fighting continued with airstrikes and artillery northwest of Kyiv and the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka came under heavy shelling.
He said Ukrainian troops still had the northern city of Chernihiv and the southern city of Mykolayiv. Ukrainian artillery also defended Ukraine’s largest port city, Odessa, from repeated attacks by Russian ships, he said.
According to the Ukrainian government, more than 840 children were wounded and 28 killed in the war. A total of 331 civilians were killed, but the true number is likely much higher, the UN human rights office said.
Kyiv’s main railway station remained crowded with people desperate to flee the capital. “People just want to live,” said one woman, Ksenia.
It comes after Russia’s foreign minister said he will insist Ukraine never again poses a military risk to its powerful neighbor.
Earlier this week, Sergei Lavrov said it was up to Ukrainians to decide which government they should have.
He also expressed regret at the civilian casualties caused by the Russian invasion and bombing of Ukraine that began last week.
He insisted that the Russian military only use precision weapons against military targets.
However, while tacitly acknowledging that some Russian attacks could have killed civilians, he said “any military action carries casualties, not only among the military but also among civilians.”
The UK Ministry of Defense released an intelligence update this morning reporting that Russian air and military strikes have been falling over the past 24 hours.
“The overall rate of Russian air and artillery strikes observed over the past 24 hours was lower than in previous days,” it said.
“Ukraine continues to hold the key cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol. There were reports of street fighting in Sumy.
“It is very likely that all four cities are encircled by Russian forces.
“Russian forces are likely to advance towards the southern port city of Mykolayiv. There is a realistic possibility that some forces will try to bypass the city to prioritize the advance towards Odessa.”
Additional coverage from Reuters
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ukraine-postpones-evacuation-from-besieged-city-says-russia-not-adhering-to-ceasefire-41414352.html Ukraine is postponing the evacuation from the besieged city, Russia is breaking the ceasefire