Russia Still Shelling, Mariupol Evacuation Stalled, Says Ukraine: 10 Points
Mariupol, a Ukrainian port city, postponed a planned evacuation of its inhabitants on Saturday, blaming Russian forces for violating a brief ceasefire meant to allow civilians to evacuate one of the war’s most bloody engagements.
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“The evacuation of the civilian population has been postponed due to the Russian side’s failure to comply with the ceasefire and the continuing shelling of Mariupol and its environs, as well as for security considerations,” city officials said in a statement on social media.
According to Interfax, Russian forces have stated that they will cease firing at 1000 Moscow time to allow humanitarian corridors out of the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha.
During the siege of Mariupol, Russian soldiers cut off the city’s electricity, food, water, heating, and transportation in the dead of winter, drawing similarities to the Nazi blockade of Leningrad during WWII.
“For now, we are looking for solutions to humanitarian problems and all possible ways to get Mariupol out of the blockade,” said mayor Vadim Boychenko. He urged a cease-fire and the creation of a humanitarian corridor for food and medication.
Since Putin’s army entered Ukraine on February 24, it has pounded Ukrainian cities, killed hundreds of civilians, and attacked Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Western governments have condemned the invasion and imposed harsh penalties, balancing punishment of the Kremlin with concerns about a dangerous escalation. Berdiansk and Kherson, both on Ukraine’s southern Black Sea coast, have been overrun by Moscow during its 10-day invasion.
Capturing Mariupol, a port city on the Azov Sea with a population of around 450,000 people, would be a bigger prize for Russian forces because it would cut off Ukraine’s access to the sea and unite troops from occupied Crimea and the Donbas.
Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, said Moscow was looking forward to a third round of negotiations with Ukraine in Belarus, which one of Kyiv’s negotiators claimed would take place this weekend.
Today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to make a formal request for additional aid from the United States. He’ll speak in front of the US Senate, where some members have pressed President Joe Biden to take harder actions, such as barring Russia’s oil imports.
According to local officials, Russian forces bombarded residential areas, including schools and a high-rise apartment building, in the northern city of Chernihiv on Thursday, killing 47 people.