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IOn Monday, the Russian military announced the opening of several humanitarian corridors and the establishment of local ceasefires to evacuate civilians from the fierce Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Kiev, Mariupol and Sumi.
“Russian forces, for humanitarian purposes, declare a ‘silent rule’ from 10 a.m. on March 7 and open humanitarian corridors,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The report does not specify whether the routes will be open in Ukraine local time (9am HB) or Moscow time (8am HB) and for how long.
The Russian military says the decision was made following a “personal request” by French President Emmanuel Macron to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders spoke on the phone for two hours on Sunday.
Russian army bombs Ukraine’s 2nd city and tightens rope in Kiev
An AFP correspondent reported that from Sunday to Monday, airstrikes targeted the sports complex and public buildings of a local university in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine. According to Ukrainian civil servants, Russian forces are concentrating their efforts in Kharkiv, Chernikiv (north), Sumi (northeast) and Mikholev (south), “concentrating their resources on attacking” Kiev.
In the capital, the army was ready to destroy the last bridge connecting the city to its interior in the west to stop the advance of Russian tanks. “If we get orders from above, or see the Russians advancing, we will blow it up.
The Russian military continues its siege on the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeastern country of the Azov Sea, where a second attempt at a humanitarian evacuation failed on Sunday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky has also accused Russia of preparing to bomb the port of Odessa in the Black Sea.
U.S. officials, quoted as saying Wall Street MagazineRussia says it has deployed Syrian mercenaries with experience in urban guerrilla warfare to fight in Ukraine.
A third round of talks between Russians and Ukrainians is scheduled for Monday. But hopes of victory are slim, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has set all the demands of Moscow, especially the militarization of Ukraine, and Kiev’s acceptance of neutral status for the country as a precondition for any dialogue.
The International Criminal Court has opened an inquiry into the situation in Ukraine, the World Health Organization has reported attacks on health facilities, and Washington has issued “most credible” reports that Russia has committed war crimes since the beginning of the February 24 invasion.
In a speech on Sunday, Mr Zhelensky accused Russian troops of “deliberate killings.” “We will not forgive, we will not forget, we will punish those who committed atrocities during this war on our soil,” he said.
UN Filippo Grande, the High Commissioner for Refugees, said the war in Ukraine had provoked “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.” “More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed the border (border) into neighboring countries in ten days,” Grandi said Sunday.
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