Russia has proposed a ceasefire to allow evacuation of civilians from the hardest hit cities of Ukraine – Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol, and Sumy.
Ukrainian officials are reportedly yet to accept the offer, and have termed Russia’s arrangement of “humanitarian corridors” as “propaganda corridors”.
“Russia declares a ceasefire from 10 a.m. (Moscow time) on March 8, and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors: from Kyiv and adjacent settlements to the Russian Federation through the territory of the Republic of Belarus to Gomel,” read a statement issued by the Russian Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response on the evening of March 7, as quoted by Russian media reports.
The statement further informed that evacuation corridors “will also be open from Chernihiv through the territory of Belarus, from the city of Sumy along two routes to Poltava and to the territory of Russia, from Kharkiv to the territory of Russia or to Lviv, Uzhgorod, Ivano-Frankivsk. Also, a humanitarian corridor will be opened from Mariupol along the two routes to the territory of Russia and Zaporizhie”.
Following this, the UK defence ministry accused the Russian military of directly targeting evacuation routes in the town of Irpin, while civilians tried to flee from Kyiv.
Ukraine and Russia have reportedly discussed establishing temporary ceasefires, however, Ukraine has “rebuffed” the proposals as Russian officials want the evacuees to use the “humanitarian corridors” to seek refuge in Russia or Belarus.
Ukraine Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya said that Russia continues to disregard the “norms of international humanitarian law”. “Russia bears full responsibility for the killing and injuring of innocent people, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and obstacles for their safe departure of Ukrainians and foreign citizens,” he said.
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Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia responded to Kyslytsya, and said, “My Ukrainian colleagues said that Ukraine is ready to work in this direction, but let’s see what answer we get to this proposal from the Russian authorities.”
Russia had proposed to start the ceasefire at 2 am Eastern time Tuesday morning, and Ukraine reportedly had until 7 pm Eastern time Monday to accept the offer.
Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba has meanwhile confirmed that he will be meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on March 10, for further talks.
(This is a developing story.)